Running for ACT

Ben Lambert and Paul Higgins modelling ACT’s Marathon vests.

Paul:  I first ran for ACT in 2011. Now I’m a trustee and I coordinate our team of runners.  One of my recruits is friend and fellow-actor Ben Lambert (we met doing Macbeth at the Almeida in 2005). Yesterday Ben set off on a 13 mile run and I joined him halfway through, later plying him with food, wine and a few questions.

PH:  How’s the training?

BL:  Great. Because when you asked me it was a bit of a bucket-list thing but I’m not sure I would have got round to doing it. And I’m glad I didn’t know what an undertaking the training would be. But the exercise is brilliant. It gets you back in touch with your body and with nature rather than your chair and your screen. And it’s good to learn about ACT and have something to run for other than yourself: it keeps you going when you don’t want to get our of bed.

PH:  How’s the fundraising side?

BL:  That’s the hardest thing. When you talk about training you see a glaze come over people’s faces as they anticipate you asking them for money. They don’t want to be bullied and I’m terribly English about it and don’t. Also, I’m an actor and can get behind ACT but then I thought Will I only be able to get money from other actors? Because then raising £1,500 is a lot.  But I’ve raised about £950 so far.

PH:  That’s pretty good. You did a clever thing of setting up donations by text. I’ve seen that from big charities. It’s an immediate, easy way to give, but I didn’t know individuals could do it.

BL:  Yeah. You just text 70070 with the message RANN66 followed by £1, £2, £3, £5 or £10 but, importantly, these are the only amounts you can give. A friend tried to do £15 and kept being told No!

PH:  You put a funny video on Facebook about Actor and Athlete Ben Lambert offering a bottle of champagne to whoever guesses closest to your finishing time.

BL:  Yeah, my girlfriend works for Save The Children and gave me some fundraising tips. Then I had a few days work in Paris recently and had to do an 18-miler so I took in some famous landmarks en-route and posted pictures – just to give people something interesting to look at while they’re asked to donate.

PH:  You’re looking very well.

BL:  So people say.  I feel well.  When I started I knew I was going to be slow, so when the woman’s voice on the app said I’d done 7 miles I’d cover my ears before she got to telling me my pace. Running along with my hands on my ears… god knows what people thought of me! But I’ve got faster. You can’t help it; I’m doing 50 miles a week. And I compete with myself. It’s great to have a target, it forces you out there. I need a target, or staying in bed wins.

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