It was in mid July that Oliver Kemmis, CTO at comitFS, approached Mike Wilson, CEO and founder here at ditto, with an unusual request to help with the training for the ultramarathon he was planning alongside his brother Luke, to be run in October. The request, unlike the challenge, was quite simple. Oliver had been enjoying the ditto jukebox selections in the Campfire newsletter each week and thought that a playlist of music might be just the ticket to help them through each day as they took on the challenge of the world’s most gruelling race, obviously we said yes, a pleasure to help in any way we can.

The race itself is the Marathon des Sables, a test of endurance, both physically and mentally, a challenge like no other, which begs the simple question, why? We asked Oliver and Luke to tell us a little more and here you can learn about their inspiration and motivation to run for a cause that is very close to their hearts.

Around 100,000 children and young people go missing or run away from home each year. Many of these children run from abuse and they have no adult that they trust to talk to. Children who run away from abuse are preyed upon on the streets and are often forced to return to their abuser. Nearly 7 in 10 children will re-offend within the first year of being released from prison, their problems staying with them as they leave the institution.

Our father, John Kemmis, was a social worker for 50 years and these facts troubled him. He led a national charity which provided children in institutions with an advocacy service – an adult that they trust who will guide them and stand up for their rights.

The advocacy service provides an outlet for the most vulnerable in society to raise concerns and issues with a trusted and independent person who will listen, care and do their best to defend their rights. This may be to highlight abuse whilst in care itself; we have seen all too often stories of child abuse in care. Siblings are often separated into different homes and children are increasingly being sent many miles from their home area – losing touch with family and friends and frequently forced to change schools. Most recently we saw the unreserved apology from Lambeth Council for the systemic violence and sexual assaults within their own care homes. Advocacy services also help teenagers transitioning from care, where again all too often targets take precedence over the wishes and needs of the children.

Children suffering alone and unheard is a real blight on our society and something our father worked tirelessly to rectify.

Whilst looking to offer independent services to the children, over his last few years he wanted to push for national changes to make sure every child who needs an advocate can receive timely and high quality help. In his opinion it was clear that such services should become a right of all children rather than something a charity often had to press care homes and councils to accept. Finally in 2020, continuing his work, Article 39 secured a promise from the government to revise and improve the national standards for these services.

Article 39 is now designing a brand new training course for children and young people to make sure they know their rights and can get help from an advocate when they need this. The charity will also develop new training for advocates around the standards. We decided given our father’s wishes, and his respect for the work of Article 39, that it would be fitting to help them raise the necessary funds to educate all involved by running nationwide training sessions. We are on track to hit our target and hopefully surpass it allowing us to expand the pool of trainees as widely as possible across the whole of the country. We know this training, and Article 39’s wider child protection work, will make a genuine difference for the most vulnerable children in our society today and the future.

How you can help?

Oliver and Luke’s GoFundMe page is open, if you would like to support this charity event like no other then you will be helping Article 39 continue their important work supporting the rights of the most vulnerable in society.


To kick off the process we decided to raise awareness by taking on an event which would challenge ourselves. The Marathon des Sables is the hardest race on earth with 1 in 5 not completing it. The task requires being self-sufficient, carrying what you need to navigate and survive a week as you battle against the harshest environment on our planet, running across the Sahara desert. Competitors run 6 marathons in 7 days, a challenge both physical and mental. It will be an adventure for sure, but no matter how hard it gets out there the pain and hardship will not come close to the suffering, isolation and vulnerability experienced by the brave children and young people we are seeking to support.

Ultramarathon Jukebox

We wish Oliver and Luke all the very best of luck with their Saharan adventure in the Marathon des Sables, break a leg gentlemen, and no doubt a sweat or two over the course of the race. As for the playlist, well, here it is.