All posts by Philip Smith

Warwick Helps – Manchester Marathon Q&A

Warwick Helps is running the Manchester Marathon on the 10th October for This IS EPIC. We sat down with Warwick earlier this week and asked him some questions about his journey to the marathon.

How has your training gone to date?

Overall: very mixed.

I entered this race over 2 years ago with the original date for the race being April 2020. In March 2020, I was in excellent shape having completed all my hardest training sessions when COVID-19 came into our lives. The race has been deferred 3 times since then but is now scheduled for October 2021. After the 3rd deferral, I was completely losing focus so I took on a coach (Lee Merrien) for the first time and he has ensured that training has been varied & interesting.

I’ve been specifically training since June and all went perfectly until I had a fall (surprisingly not inebriated) in late July and required 3 weeks off (due to a likely cracked rib and knee too painful to run on). I’ve picked up pace since and the dream to run a sub 3 marathon is still on.

What has been the toughest aspect of marathon training?

Managing my hip! I am a candidate for a hip replacement as a genetic issue means that my hip is degenerating. I need to manage my hip pain and interrupted sleep on a daily basis and this has made the challenge so much more difficult that I could have ever anticipated. Also, for a runner who prefers races under 1 mile, this is the longest marathon training plan ever!!!

Why did you choose This Is EPIC over other charities?

Initially, seeing Warren and Philip take on nutty challenges drew my attention to this charity. But this led to me looking into what the charity was all about. Whilst I understand that hand outs are very much needed in the world, I love the fact that This Is EPIC educates poverty-stricken people/communities to make better informed decisions going forward via their loans & savings projects…it provides them with a firm base and then encourages them to utilise their returns more effectively.

What impact do you hope to have by raising money for This Is EPIC?

My hope is that every pound that I raise will help pull as many people out of poverty by offering them tools (in the form of skills and knowledge) to transform their lives indefinitely for the better.

What will be your inspiration to drag you through any dark moments in the marathon?

My family! I have spent many hours running, managing my hip and obsessing over completing this marathon…I will make sure for them that it was worth the sacrifice.

Do you want to run the 2021 London Marathon?

We have some exciting news!

This Is EPIC are delighted to be allocated a Charity place for the 2021 London Marathon, the last time we had a place was in 2019 when Jenni West completed the run and raised an incredible £1700 for our projects.

Our projects focus on delivering Village Savings and Loans schemes in communities in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We empower individuals to come together to access informal financial services has a positive and sustainable impact on the fight against extreme poverty.

We’re looking for an excited, passionate individual to take our charity place at the 2021 London Marathon on Sunday 3rd October.

If you’re interested in our charity place we want to hear from you if with the following details:

  • Commitment to raising a minimum of £1,500 in fundraising
  • Why you’re interested in helping us change lives through our projects?
  • A few ideas on fundraising activities

What you will get in return…

  • This Is EPIC running t-shirt or vest
  • Input into a training plan (if required)
  • Social media and print media coverage to support fundraising activities.

Please email with your details. Applications will close at 5pm on Wednesday 30th June.

Never Give Up


Two new directors join the team

This Is EPIC’s team has been strengthened by the addition of two directors, Mel Torode and Warren Mauger. Their involvement will enable the charity to build on the successful work it has already carried out in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Is EPIC’s implementation of Village Savings and Loans (VSL) schemes empowers individuals to come together to access informal financial services, which has a positive and sustainable impact upon the fight against extreme poverty.

The charity was founded six years ago by Philip and Louise Smith and Martyn Langlois. Martyn has played a key role in a number of community projects in Africa, including Compassion UK, and set up the Gill Langlois Legacy Fund in memory of his late wife, to build classrooms in Compassion projects. Louise said: Martyn has played such a key part in helping us to get This Is EPIC off the ground, and his support and enthusiasm for the projects has been fundamental in promoting the work. We are very grateful for Martyn’s involvement and pleased that he will remain as key adviser to the This Is EPIC team.’

This Is EPIC has built a vision for what it aims to achieve over the next three to five years. The team is keen to maintain the 400 VSL groups that are currently up and running in Uganda and the DRC, and also wants to increase the scale of their projects and the number of new groups. In addition, the four directors are exploring how they can add new services to their projects, including training in financial literacy, agriculture & farming and business management & entrepreneurship. Mel and Warren’s energy and skills will be key to the charity’s success.

Mel Torode has more than 20 years’ experience in financial services. She is the Managing Director of a fund administration and fiduciary business in Guernsey as well as an experienced Non-Executive Director with a varied portfolio. It is increasingly important that charities operate robust and transparent financial processes, to be able to show supporters how funds are spent. To this end, Mel will help with the governance and monitoring of This Is EPIC projects. Mel said: ‘I have been searching for an opportunity to apply the skills I have learnt during my career to a local charity and This Is EPIC really resonated with me. The principle of providing those most in need with the opportunity to help themselves and their families, utilising their own business ideas, means that the help provided has a long-term impact in these communities.’

Warren Mauger has been a key fundraiser for This Is EPIC since 2014 and has been heavily involved in supporting the charity’s communications. As a communications professional he can help to get the charity’s message out and engage with the community. As a businessman, he also understands how to run an organisation and can help This Is EPIC punch above its weight. Warren said: ‘I have seen first hand the impact This is EPIC is making where it operates, it is literally changing the lives of some of the poorest people in the world, providing simple financial support and helping them save and borrow to create their own small businesses and work their way out of poverty. These are hard-working people who just need to be shown how to manage their money within a proven structure. This is not a hand out, it is a hand up.’

Africa has not remained untouched by the Covid-19 pandemic, and poor communities affected by the virus are particularly vulnerable. This Is EPIC’s team are ensuring that its training partners in Africa adhere to local government advice; in Uganda it is compulsory to wear a face mask in public, and the teams in the DRC are struggling to get hold of hand sanitiser and soap.

Philip concluded: ‘We are really excited about bringing Mel and Warren into the charity as we look to build on the projects and work delivered over the past six years. Their skills and experience are going to be critical as we embark on the next stage of our vision, continue to mature as a charity and impact as many people as possible with our ethos of a help up, not a hand out.’