Liz Winton

“In Watlington I’m known as the crazy Rhino lady”

I’ve lived everywhere, moving about as a child with my dad’s job in a shoe shop, and in several places after leaving home, finally settling in Caversham. Then Andrew got a job in London and we moved to Watlington in December, 2001. We knew Watlington as a cut through, and we moved here because we found a house on Pauls Way that was in a state of disrepair and so we could afford it. We only really knew our one neighbour, other than that it was a case of getting up, going to work, going to the gym and working on the house.

We married in St Leonards church in August 2003 and a year later we had Robert. After about two weeks I realised I had to get out and meet people! I started going to the Baby Group at the Memorial Hall. I got a little network of friends and coffee mornings. After Ollie was born, I gave up work and we used to go on day trips to places like Beale Park and soft play, and I got to know the area a bit better. Then Harry was born in 2009. By then, I was on the Pre-School committee, helped with Rainbow Nursery and felt a proper part of the community, knowing people well enough to say hello to them.

After having Harry, I started running, as a kind of escape! You can do a lot of thinking on a run. If you go out in a bad mood you never come back in one.

I became a childminder, and felt even more involved in the community. Then in 2014, I opened the Jellybean shop on the High Street with my friend Amanda selling children’s toys. We were open for just six months before a rent increase forced us to close. It was good fun, and gave me an insight into just how difficult it is to be a business in Watlington, with the costs of running it and the footfall. We still run a Jellybean stall at Christmas fairs and fetes.

Around the same time I became a Parish Councillor. I think everyone should have a stint, it’s a great thing to do. I met a section of the community I wouldn’t otherwise have met and was able to reflect the concerns of parents, who otherwise might not have been represented.

I’ve done 8 marathons now, and on the 23rd April I ran my 3rd London Marathon, which have all been in aid of Save the Rhino. This time I did it in a Rhino suit! I am particularly thankful to Watlington for all the support both financially and emotionally. The charity set me a target of £1,000 but the total raised is an amazing £5,700. A lot of the community sponsored me by buying cakes, beauty products, babysitting, or taxi services, or just by donating on line. Also, Watlington businesses Tutu Delicious, and Strong and Steel both sponsored me.

On the day, I felt supported the whole way along with chants of “Rhino! Rhino!” and “Come on Liz” The support from everyone, and other runners was fantastic. But it was so hard. It was hot, it was awkward. I couldn’t use my arms to run as I had to hold the head. It was like running in a crisp packet, and I had to run bent over. It was such a relief to cross the finishing line and I was so happy.

I’m a massive animal lover and I think Rhinos are such amazing gentle creatures. They are getting killed for their horns, which are hair – it’s keratin – people might as well bite their fingernails. It could happen in our life time that there might be no Rhinos left in the wild. We have to act now and Watlington has done that.

It’s not too late to support Save the Rhino, by donating here

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