Andrea’s life was struck by tragedy – but she is determined to run the Virgin London Marathon to help others overcome isolation and loneliness.
Lots of people fundraising for charity have ‘a story’ – I never ever imagined that I would become one of those people. One phone call, on what had been an ordinary day in July 2017, ripped my whole world apart. The worst, most unimaginable thing happened when I suddenly lost my wonderful husband Stan in a tragic accident. My entire life was turned upside down and my teenage daughter and I lost the most important person in our lives. My life had changed forever.
The following days, weeks and months have without question been the worst of my life, not only dealing with my own grief but trying to support my daughter through hers. I soon realised that if I didn’t focus on something to drag me back to some kind of normality, I would self-destruct from the pain. It was this hurt, anger and at times desperation that forced me to put my running shoes back on. With the support of my ‘running family’ at Marple Runners in Stockport, I was able to channel my grief into running. Running became my outlet.
Stan was always supportive of my running exploits, often coming along to cheer me on at events. Each year when I got a rejection letter from the London Marathon ballot, he would see my disappointment and urge me not to give up, saying that one year I would definitely get a place. So when the opportunity recently came up for me to finally run at London, and for a charity whose work is close to both mine and Stan’s hearts, I grabbed it with both hands.
It’s sadly ironic that the first person I wanted to tell about my marathon place was no longer there to share my fantastic news. I’m sure you can imagine how heartbreaking this was for me, but this only makes me more determined to run the race of my life and raise as much money as possible in his memory. Stan was also a strong believer in people having the best opportunities in life irrespective of their disabilities and I know he would want me to help raise awareness and funds for such a deserving charity. All in all, I feel this run was meant to be.
I’m running for Livability, the disability charity that connects people with their communities. They provide a variety of services across the UK which help reduce social isolation and tackle the barriers that disabled and vulnerable people face in their lives. Their valuable services include residential care, independent and supported living, rehabilitation centres and wellbeing discovery programmes.
It hurts more than I could ever have imagined that my Stan won’t be there to cheer me on, but I know he would have been incredibly proud of me. I hope I will make him proud by running what will no doubt be the hardest and most emotional race of my life.
I’ve worked with vulnerable people for many years as a support worker, so I know how important it is for disabled people to be a part of society and to connect with their community. I’m passionate about promoting independence and building both skills and confidence with the individuals I support. It’s important to me that everybody has an equal opportunity to enjoy life and fulfil it, regardless of any constraints they may have.
Livability wishes Andrea – and all our marathon runners – the very best with their training and London Marathon run.