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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Daughter-in-law's run in memory of popular Carlisle councillor

The memory of an outspoken and popular Carlisle city councillor is to be honoured – thanks to the determination of his daughter-in-law.

Kate Whalen photo
Kate Whalen with her son William

Willie Whalen, who died in June after suffering a heart attack at his Brook Street home, was one of the city’s best known political figures, respected by colleagues across the political spectrum.

Now Kate Whalen, 35, who is married to Willie’s son John-Paul, is limbering up for a half marathon which will both honour his memory and raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

The 13-mile run in September will be her latest impressive physical achievement, coming after she shed nearly half her own body weight as a result of two years of effort with a slimming group.

“I started running last September and I now intend to do the Great North Run,” said Kate, whose son William shares the name of his late grandfather.

“I’d decided to run and have a friend whose dad, a man called Malcolm Nelson, had heart surgery and he was given a lot of help by the British Heart Foundation.

“When they asked me to do the run for charity I decided to do it for the British Heart Foundation team.”

After Kate had decided to run Willie, 67, suffered a suspected heart attack in June. Just days after he was sent home from hospital, he suffered heart failure.

Kate said: “It had become apparent that he had heart disease and they had wanted to put a stent in his heart but he had fluid on the lung and they couldn’t perform the operation till that had been cleared.

“When Willie died, my doing this run for the British Heart Foundation became all the more poignant.

“We’d been on at him for years to eat better but he was always busy and his focus was always on looking after other people, not himself.”

Over the last two years, with the help of a Slimming World group in Denton Holme, Kate has shed more than six stone, reducing her size from 22 to 12, her weight dropping from 18 stone to just under 12.

The tragedy that befell Willie has focused her and John-Paul’s minds on the need to live healthily and stay fit – and to ensure that their son also grows up with an awareness of the need to be active.

She added: “What happened to Willie came as a massive shock to the family. It’s only just starting to sink in.”

The Great North Run will be held on Sunday, September 7. To sponsor Kate, log on to the Just Giving website and search for her name.

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