A WAREHOUSE manager from Kidderminster has swapped football boots for running shoes to take part in the London Marathon this year in aid of the homeless and housing charity Shelter.

Rachel Baldwin, who works for Lens Online which is one of the manufacturing and distribution businesses of Specsavers, spent 20 years playing football before deciding to take up running just a year ago.

After completing a half-marathon and being a spectator at the London marathon last year, Rachel, 37, decided to try for a charity place in the famous race on Sunday, April 21 this year on behalf of Shelter.

"When I went along to watch the race last year I fully got into the swing of cheering people on and it inspired me to lace up my trainers and try something different," said Rachel.

"After completing the half-marathon back in September, I thought why not go one bigger and try to secure a place in the London Marathon.

"Alongside my role at Lens Online, over the last year I have been involved with CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives with a focus on homeless charities and it seemed fitting to fundraise for this charity."

Shelter is a registered charity that helps people in housing need by providing advice and practical assistance and campaigns for better investment in housing and for laws and policies to improve the lives of homeless and badly-housed people.

"There are nearly 139,000 children in England alone who don’t have a place they can call home so I am aiming to raise £2,500 which I hope will go a little way to helping those in need," said Rachel. She is training hard to prepare for the race and is encouraging people to spur her on.

Rachel added: "I know this is going to be the biggest challenge I have ever faced but I’m determined not only to raise the money but also complete the marathon so if anyone fancies a jog over the new few weeks please come and keep me company!"

The three sister businesses, Vision Labs, Lens Online and International Glazing Services (IGS), provide lens surfacing as well as stocking and distributing lenses and contact lenses to Specsavers UK optical businesses.