Eleven years to the day I write this blog, my son Joshua was born. He arrived 12 weeks prematurely with damage to his brain. Early scans indicated there was likely to be significant impairment to his movement, co‐ordination and intellect. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
I am therefore a parent of a disabled child. To be honest, it took me a long time to say that to myself. No one prepares you for that role. Everyone expects their child to be born healthy. There is no antenatal class for what happens when that isn’t the case. In the end you find a way to cope, to grieve for the life not to come, to set new expectations and to see life through different eyes.
Over time, you find a new purpose and fresh motivation. You celebrate every small achievement as the miracle it is ‐ the first time Joshua rolled over, the first time he crawled an inch forward and the first unaided step. These were milestones of fundamental importance and as a family we rejoiced in them in case there were fewer milestones left.
As part of the disabled community, your eyes are also opened to the wonderful people that love and care for children with special needs and disabilities. The physiotherapist becomes an angel sent to help your son achieve his potential. The staff at the specialist nursery for disabled children become our heroes. Over time you get to see the best of humanity, the strength of the human spirit and the deepest warmth and kindness.
And so, in 2012 when a work night‐out led to the suggestion of doing a charity fun run, I asked for support for Joshua’s nursery. Having not run for 20 years, the initial goal was to run a mile. And then run a slower mile back home! Over time, two miles, became three, became four and by the summer, our works team completed our first 10K fun run and raised several thousand pounds for the nursery.
As many of you will know, running and indeed running for charity becomes wonderfully addictive! The 10K fun run was completed three years in a row alongside a growing number of half marathons. In addition, Joshua himself took part in the Parallel London event for Whizz‐Kidz in 2016 and 2017. He is inspired by my running, in the same way he inspires me with his determination and positive attitude.
Inevitably, the challenge became to run the London marathon and given the challenges Joshua has faced with his mobility, Whizz‐Kidz was the obvious charity to run for. It truly is an amazing charity to support and a great team to be part of. The work they do for so many young people is genuinely life changing because it provides a platform for greater personal success for those individuals. It puts them on a higher platform to overcome greater challenges, realise their potential, and gain the independence we all value so highly. I also reflected on the money I had raised and the fantastic things Whizz-Kidz can do with that. More than any finish time could have given me, that was one of the best feelings of my life and I finally gained a true understanding of why I had wanted to run in the first place.
I have now completed three London marathons for Whizz‐Kidz. On the first two occasions, although I was pleased to finish, I was disappointed with my finish time and felt I could have done better. In 2018, I trained to run in under four hours and put in more training miles than ever before.
On the day I ran well to halfway but then my pace slowed due to the heat. However, the strangest thing happened around mile 20 ‐ I realised four hours was never going to happen, started walking and gained a wonderful feeling of contentment. As I walked along, I made sure I smiled, waved and appreciated the wonderful atmosphere. I also reflected on the money I had raised and the fantastic things Whizz-Kidz can do with that. More than any finish time could have given me, that was one of the best feelings of my life and I finally gained a true understanding of why I had wanted to run in the first place.