A FUN run event was held in Penistone last weekend in memory of two young boys who were killed in a house fire - and their brave domestic abuse campaigning mother picked up a surprise award.
Claire Throssell MBE has campaigned for the past five years to overturn the presumptive contact rule which allows both parents in a separating couple access to their children, regardless of whether one has a history of domestic abuse.
She began her campaign two years after the death of her two children, Jack and Paul, nine and 12 respectively, who died in a house fire started by her estranged husband in Penistone.
Claire hopes she can prevent children from being forced to have contact with a parent if they have a history of domestic violence and believes that children’s voices are not heard during divorce proceedings.
On Sunday in Penistone the latest fun run - coming back after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic - saw more than 200 runners and even more supporters turn up in memory of the two youngsters.
She told the Chronicle: “Way back in 2017 Emma and Steve Stead came to me and said they wanted to organise a fun run in memory of Jack and Paul.
“It was all going along nicely and then Covid came a long and stopped it for two years.
“I wanted to bring it back this year and it didn’t disappoint.
“The atmosphere was electric and there was 220 runners.
“Everyone was dressed in bright colours and they came to support Jack and Paul in their memory.
“So often to raise awareness I have to talk about what happened but this day was just about a boy who loved music and a boy who loved running.
“The amount of people who were there showed warmth - warmth that encourages me to keep going.”
On the same day Claire said she was ‘surprised’ and ‘caught off guard’ as she received a Penistone Hero Community Award - an accolade she says means so much to her.
She’s also continuing to campaign for the ‘unsafe’ presumptive contact bill - which assumes when a couple splits that both parents will want and be able to see their children without taking into account a history of domestic abuse - to change.
“If I had to describe myself it definitely wouldn’t be as a hero, more as a grieving mum determined to give vulnerable children who are at risk of harm and living in fear a future and a childhood free of fear and oppression,” she added.
“Yes we have a strong new Domestic Abuse Bill but it doesn’t go far enough regarding unsafe contact and protecting children living with abuse every day of their lives.
“Something inside me still pushes for more to fully protect every child because it matters - they matter.
“Everything I do or fight for is for Jack and Paul and because their lights were extinguished from the world it’s left to me to make sure their light remains burning bright.
“But there are days when maybe it’s their hands and love that keeps my heart beating.
“On other days it’s our amazing community that lends me their ear, their shoulders and their strength.
“That’s why this award means such a lot - because I’m so proud to be part of a community that champions humanity, kindness, friendship, positivity and love.”