Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Hospitals boosted by Cumbrian athletes taking part in Great North Run

It was third time lucky for the family of Cumbria’s all-action girl Helen Skelton when she was among more than 54,000 people taking part in yesterday’s Great North Run.

Great North Run photo
Team Finlay, Luisa Risino, Liz Stewart, Michelle Coulthard, Dave Coulthard, Nicola Heron, Tim Goddard, Kevin Robson, Lee Gorton and Katie Roper (not on pic)

For the first time they saw her cross the finish line of the world’s biggest half marathon at South Shields.

BBC Blue Peter presenter Helen, 28, of Kirkby Thore, said: “My mum, my aunt and some of my other relatives came along to watch. This is the first time they’ve seen me cross the line in three years.

“They always come to see me and stand near the finishing line but until now they’ve managed to miss me.”

Helen was part of the team pushing Great North Run veteran Lynne Proctor round the 13.1-mile course to raise awareness of the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity.

Lynne has a long history of taking part in the famous Newcastle half-marathon, and had run it 10 times before she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005.

Helen said: “We did it in two hours nine last year but this year it was a nightmare. We broke the wheelchair. It has four wheels – two big ones at the back and two small ones at the front. We had to push Lynne round on three wheels – it was like pushing a shopping trolley. We put the broken wheel from the front in our collection bucket.

“I don’t know how much we’ve raised but it’s going to be a lot. We had to empty our buckets twice along the way.”

Mike Elwick, 32, of Carlisle, was also among the Cumbrian competitors. Mike has raised about £400 for the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity.

He said: “It went really well. I did it in two hours, equalling what I did last year.

“The atmosphere was great. It rained for the last five miles but when I got to the charity tent afterwards the sun came out. It was a good welcome.”

Team Finlay was a group of runners from west Cumbria, led by Michelle and Dave Coulthard, the parents of Finlay Coulthard, who died in July 2009.

The team is raising money for the Finlay Fund, in aid of the special care baby unit at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and the neo-natal unit at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. They have raised almost £18,000 and are well on their way to reaching their £20,000 target.

The day, as usual, was highly-charged emotionally. Dr Emma Egging, the widow of a Red Arrows pilot killed last month, started the event with honorary starter Mo Farah, the world 5,000m champion, before running it in memory of her late husband.

Flt Lt Jon Egging, 33, was killed when his jet came down when returning from Bournemouth Air Festival last month. Dr Egging, of Rutland, watched silently as the Red Arrows flew over the start line in the “missing man” formation in honour of her husband.

Professional athletes including British light heavyweight boxer Tony Jeffries, and celebrities including newsreader Sophie Raworth, EastEnders favourites Charlie Brooks and Neil McDermott, and models Nell McAndrew and Sophie Gradon.


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