Friend’s memory will spur on charity runner

Posted: October 29 2015

A half-marathon runner will keep her friend’s memory alive as she puts her best foot forward.

Friend’s memory will spur on charity runner

Mel Wilkinson prepares to run the Great Eastern Half Marathon.

Mel Wilkinson, 49, will take part in the Great Eastern Run – a 13.1-mile course around Peterborough – on Sunday October 11, in aid of the Marfan Trust.

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder of the body’s connective tissue and can affect the eyes, skeleton and heart. This year Mel’s close friend Jon died at the age of 51 from the syndrome which he only discovered he had 11 years earlier.

Mel, an officer manager for the skin health service based at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn, said: “Many people do not know they have Marfan syndrome until complications arise. In Jon’s case severe chest complaints led to him having open heart surgery which made the discovery.

“He was able to manage the condition with treatment for 11 years until further complications eventually led to his death. I had known Jon since the age of 16 and our families are both close.

“I have taken part in this half-marathon twice before but just for fun. This time I wanted to raise money and could not think of a better cause.”

Mel a married mum-of-three, has a personal trainer to help work on her core strength in preparation for the main event.

She said: “I run three times a week which includes a 10-mile run on a weekend. I want to do my very best and I know what to expect by taking part in half marathons before.

“I love the atmosphere at these events, everyone gets behind each other and I have had strangers shout out my name as I am running along just because they see it on my shirt. I hope keeping Jon in mind will spur me on and keep me going.”

Mel hopes to raise £1,000 for the charity as well as making more people aware of the condition.

Anyone wanting to sponsor Mel can visit her JustGiving page, www.justgiving.com/mel-wilkinson/

For more information about Marfan syndrome, visit www.marfantrust.org

If you are a journalist or media representative requiring further information contact our communications team on (01707) 388148 or via communications@hct.nhs.uk