A YOUNG girl has raised thousands of pounds for a children’s charity by running 26 kilometres.

Bella Armitage, 12, starting running in Hove with her dad about four years ago.

Now, the Year 7 pupil has put those skills to good use by running 26k in aid of the Rockinghorse Children’s charity.

She said: “I enjoy the freedom of running and it really makes me happy.

“My dad and I have completed the Park Run in Hove a number of times and I really enjoy trying to beat him.

“Once lockdown started, I wanted to get fitter and decided to run 5km each day.

“Over the weeks, I increased the distance and before I knew it, I had completed my longest ever run of 16km two weeks ago.”

The fundraising effort came after Bella and her dad, Dan, found out about the 2.6 Challenge.

It was created by the London Marathon’s organisers as a way of helping raise some of the £67 million that UK charities will miss out on due to the race being postponed.

The 2.6 Challenge can be any activity people want to take part in, from running 2.6 miles to holding an online workout with 26 of their friends – although people must remember to follow Government guidelines.

Bella challenged herself to run 26km for the “wonderful” Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton.

So far, she has smashed her target of £500 and has raised £2,055 for the charity, which provides vital support to the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit.

She said: “To start with I thought I would try and raise £500, through friends and family, but I am overwhelmed that I have reached over £2,000 already.

“It was the toughest thing I have ever done, but I am so happy to have completed it.

“Hopefully I can make a small difference for Rockinghorse.

“Now it’s time to lie down and rest.”

Bella’s run took her through the Brede Valley in Icklesham, around her grandparent’s farm where she is staying during the lockdown.

Delighted father Dan said he “couldn’t be prouder” of Bella.

He said: “She set herself a tough challenge, in not only running, but also raising money for a wonderful charity.

“It’s her first ever fund-raising event at the age of 12 and has proved to her that anything is possible, if you work hard for it.

“I had 100 per cent faith that she would complete this challenge!”

Lucy Pond, challenge events fundraising manager at Rockinghorse, was overwhelmed with the achievement.

She said: “A lot of charities rely on the amazing fundraising efforts of runners in marathons to raise much needed funds, but having someone as young as Bella supporting us is truly amazing.

“We are losing around £50k due to the postponement of many of this year’s events so anything that our supporters can do is wonderful.

“The icing on the cake is when a young person wants to support other children who are going through difficult times.”