WWF UK Blog  

There’s no ‘I’ in Team (but there’s a panda!)


How are we feeling after that festive over indulgence? Personally I’m feeling the squeeze on my wallet (and waistline) so I’m up for a new challenge with Team Panda in 2016.

I’m approaching my 13th year at WWF-UK – I know, I can’t believe it either! When I started on the phones I spent a lot of time chatting to supporters, helping with queries. Next I moved to work on pulling together content for our adoption updates. Sourcing amazing stories from the field and finding out how our conservation efforts help protect precious species like tigers and tackle big conservation issues like climate change.

A new team in 2016

Now it’s time for a new chapter in our Events Team. As the newest recruit to Team Panda I’ve already been inspired by our motivated ‘super supporters’. The hard work and dedication which goes into preparing for our running and cycling challenges, like RideLondon and the Great North Run, is truly outstanding. To add to this our top fundraisers – Sophie Chisholm, Richard Whitty and celebrity supporter Shane Williams  have raised notable amounts which will be a vital contribution to funding our work.

We even get our own staff involved – bring on Joe Dix, Greg Campbell and Siobhan Wakely to name just a few who’ve really gone the extra mile.

One member of Team Panda whose story has really inspired us all here is Emma Litchfield. Emma ran in the Royal Parks Half Marathon last October in memory of her brother Guy. I spoke to Emma recently and she told me about the reason behind taking on the Royal Parks Half and why #ThePandaMadeMeDoIt.

Royal Parks Half Marathon, London, UK. Royal Parks Half Marathon, London, UK. ©Tristan Fewings/WWF

Emma’s inspiring story

I decided I wanted to run for Team Panda as WWF was my brother Guy’s favourite charity. After my family tragically lost Guy at the age of 22 in a mountain walking accident in 2012 we decided to adopt three animals a year in his memory. However, this year I decided I wanted to take my support for WWF a stage further and so applied for a place with Team Panda. Guy felt very strongly about all the conservation work WWF does and I wanted to continue to support a charity which had been so important to him.

My experience with Team Panda was amazing. From the moment my place was confirmed I felt part of the team and received frequent support and advice in the build up to the event. The Team Panda supporters at the race were so loud and encouraging and definitely provided a huge boost to help me keep going- I was very proud to be a Panda on the day!”

In the months before the race I ran between two and three times a week, making sure that I managed to fit in a long run on the weekend. I gradually built up the distance and for my own piece of mind that I would be able to make it to the end, I did a 12 mile practice run two weeks before.

On the morning of the race I was so nervous! This was my first proper running event and being on a tube on the way to the race packed full of other runners definitely didn’t help the butterflies. However, I took a bumbag full of jelly babies  and once I got to the start line I was definitely as excited as I was nervous. I was really lucky to have a friend running with me and so having someone to chat to along the way definitely helped.

After the race I felt such a sense of achievement and I knew my brother would have been so proud of me. The support I had from friends and family was incredible and I was so pleased I was able to smash the fundraising target I had set for myself.

A word of warning, the one thing no one tells you is – the lines for the loos on the course are massive – go before you start!

“I would encourage anyone who is thinking of signing up for an event with Team Panda to do so. There is a great team spirit and the sense of accomplishment I felt was made even better by all the support WWF gave me along the way. Go Team Panda!” Emma Litchfield, Team Panda

Ones to watch

Other inspiring fundraisers include SuperCycling Man, who’s embarking on a 5 year cycling adventure that will take him 100,000km across all 7 continents of the world (including Antarctica!). He’s doing all of this dressed as a superhero! To get me in the right frame of mind I’ve been scouting out health and fitness bloggers and reading up on what they have to say about challenges and how to prepare. I’m really enjoying posts by Fitness On Toast , Lazy Girl Running and The Fat Girls Guide to Running.

Team Panda offers a wide range of events from coastal walks to running a marathon or cycling 100 milesTeam Panda offers a wide range of events from coastal walks to running a marathon or cycling 100 miles. ©Tristan Fewings/WWF

What will the panda make you do?

So if you feel as inspired as I do after all that, check out our calendar of events and get that FitBit on! It would be great to have you on board Team Panda in 2016 – anyone up for a quick jog?!

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