This mum is on the run – for a cause close to her heart.
Catherine Bell will be taking on the Great North Run next month, with her best friend Emma Eldershaw.
The pair are raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation – a charity whose good work Catherine, from South Shore, knows about first-hand.
It was thanks to the charity that Catherine’s son Jack, seven, was given the holiday of a lifetime in February.
Jack was born with Dravet Syndrome, a progressive neuro-developmental disorder, which leads to many seizures.
Catherine, 42, said: “I chose to support Make-A-Wish as they granted a wish for Jack to swim with dolphins.
“We had the trip of a lifetime in February, it was so magical and has created so many wonderful memories.
“The whole trip was created to provide a completely stress-free experience. We hadn’t taken Jack on an aeroplane before as it just felt too challenging, but we had assistance right the way though to Florida.
“Jack was great during the flight, so it has given us the confidence to take a family holiday next year – something we would never have contemplated before.
“We stayed at Give Kids The World Village, which is like being in another world – a completely disabled-friendly, inclusive place, where Jack experienced merry-go-rounds, horse-riding, swimming, meeting Disney characters and having ice-cream for breakfast – it was just amazing.
“We went to Discovery Cove for Jack’s wish to swim with dolphins, which was so emotional, but I think his favourite part of the holiday was the roller coasters at Disney.
“Although he can’t talk, he had the biggest smile on his face the whole time and as a mum that was just the best feeling in the world. I cried so many tears of happiness over those seven days.
“It really was such an experience, I wanted to give something back.”
Catherine says the furthest she had run before was 10k, but she has been gradually increasing her mileage and doing interval training, along with clean-eating.
She said: “I’ve not run since I had my boys, which is 10-plus years, so this really is a challenge.
“I chose the Great North Run as it’s arguably the best half-marathon in the country and I’m not intending to do it again as I’m not a natural runner.
“Emma has done it before and she also did the London marathon for Make-A-Wish so she’s been giving me moral support and training advice, and she accompanied me on my longest run to date – when I managed to do 10 miles.”
The women are no strangers to fund-raising as both are members of Jack’s Belles – a group of Catherine’s friends and family, who regularly do charity work in Jack’s name and raise money for good causes.
They have helped local charities, as well as The Muir Maxwell Trust, which supports children with severe epilepsy and similar conditions, and their families.
To support Catherine, click www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/Catherine-BellGNR2014
For more information about the charity, visit www.make-a-wish.org.uk .