Three years ago my Grandma had a stroke.  My family and I were all deeply affected by our experiences and I decided to do some fundraising for The Stroke Association.

I ran the Great South and Great North runs without a great deal of training, finding that I really enjoyed the health benefits and the achievements of running.  In April 2011 I joined Sleaford Town Running Club and despite my previous success I was back to the beginning, learning how to run, build up stamina and mileage.

In May of this year my Father-in-Law, Bob Henderson died after having 3 strokes in 3 weeks.  Bob had a huge impact on my life and was very much a Father figure to me.  In his youth he had been a keen runner and had always supported my efforts and encouraged me to increase my mileage and try new events.  His passing has had a profound affect on me and I am sad every day for the times I have lost with him. In an attempt to turn his loss in to something positive, I decided to try a new challenge and set myself a goal of running 3 half marathons in 3 consecutive weekends in memory of Bob and to raise more funds for The Stroke Association.

In 3 weeks I completed the Basingstoke Half Marathon, the Perkins Great Eastern Half Marathon and the Spires and Steeples Challenge.  The journey was emotional, running the Basingstoke half on the hottest day in October, gaining a personal best at the Perkins Great Eastern and undertaking the challenge of uneven ground in a mostly cross country challenge of the Spires and Steeples.

I have been shocked by the impact that this challenge has had, not only on me but on others too; like the man I ran the Perkins Great Eastern with, who had previously suffered a stroke which caused him to lose all use of the left-hand side of his body.  He had to relearn to walk and run.  It was a huge inspiration to share the experience of running along side him. I was left flabbergasted when a child said she had written about me at school as an inspirational citizen for what I was doing for The Stroke Association.

Friends, family and members of Sleaford Town Runners have supported me throughout the journey and I can not thank them enough for all they have done cheering me on, travelling up and down the country and helping me tend to the many blisters I have gained on my runs!

Bob was a huge cross country fan and whilst I have felt he was with me throughout this entire challenge, I am in no doubt that he was laughing at me as I stumbled along the Spires and Steeples trail over the stiles and fields and through the many farm gates.

I am still not at peace with Bob’s passing, but my challenge has been a great way to instil positive feelings towards his memory and in raising in excess of £700 I know I am going a small way to help others who are impacted by such a debilitating illness.

By Lou Henderson