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Mud, sweat and tears for Sodbury Slog supporting RUH patients

The Forever Friends Appeal, the primary fundraising charity for the Royal United Hospitals, is delighted to be chosen as an official charity for the sold-out Sodbury Slog. Mud, mud and more mud is forecast for the 9 country-mile race in Chipping Sodbury on Remembrance Sunday 13th November, and if you’re up for the trainer-ruining challenge, the Appeal has a number of special charity places still available (public entry has completely sold out).

Sue Brigden, a well-known Bath runner and long-term supporter of the Cancer Care Campaign, is no stranger to the RUH and will be taking on this race to support the Cardiology Unit after a recent encounter. Here’s her story.

“Back in 2000 both my husband Ray and I came into contact with an amazing lady called Vanessa ‘Ness’ Kyte. Ness had just recovered from breast cancer and reconstruction surgery and wanted to learn how to run a 5k race as a Thank You for all of the help she had been given by the RUH.

As running coaches, Ray and I gave her advice and she trained with us for many weeks until race day was reached and Ness’s fundraising was off the ground. Sadly, after so much more fundraising and astonishing feats resulting in over £100,000 being raised for the Forever Friends Appeal, Ness lost her life to this cruel disease. During this time we became friends with Ness and her family, including her sister Nic who is still so very much involved with carrying on her late sister’s legacy.

Then in 2008 whilst preparing for the Walk of Life, the Appeal’s fundraising walk set up with and in memory of Ness, my husband Ray was diagnosed with bowel cancer. This came as a total shock as he was/is so fit and healthy, never smoked, ran everywhere and was a vegetarian!

Not to be deterred we set about dealing with this in the only way we know how… staying positive in both body and mind. That year I walked with even more determination to show my support to Ness, Ray and all the others suffering with this never ending disease.

Fortunately for me, Ray has recovered and despite now having Parkinson’s, he is as fit and healthy as ever. Again it was the dedication of the RUH staff who were there trying to fix us.

On 20th May this year my beloved eldest sister died very tragically and totally unexpectedly. Although nothing to do with her death, Cheryl had also come through breast cancer resulting in having a mastectomy & 6 months of treatment…again so wonderfully well looked after by the RUH. She was well into her remission when she lost her life to an aneurysm, this time despite having immediate attention at the scene, she died without ever reaching hospital.

Then if that wasn’t enough, just three days later, my sister’s partner of some 42 years collapsed from a heart attack which lead to her having 3 stents and a defibrillator fitted. Having collapsed in Frome she was airlifted to the RUH where for three long days they battled to save her…….They won! Firstly in ITU then CCU and finally the Cardiac Ward, Lynn was able to leave hospital on 14th June, the day of Cheryl’s funeral.

As you can imagine, life will never be quite the same, but we really can’t thank everyone at the RUH enough for everything they have done for us, our family and our friends over the years. I do the Sodbury Slog virtually every year although this year due to everything that ghastly happened, I haven’t done as much training as normal. I will certainly find it a ‘slog’ but at least I have the chance, which is a chance more than many have.”

Presented by Bitton Road Runners, the Sodbury Slog is quite simply not for the faint-hearted! Forget roads (they’re for wimps) this is a lung-busting, trainer-ruining, hill-climbing, multi-terrain challenge held over and through some of South Gloucestershire’s most stunning countryside. Attracting around 1300 runners annually the route uses the same paths, fields, ditches and mudbaths since it’s original inception in 1990. The race always coincides with Remembrance Sunday and is preceded by exhortation, a two minute silence and playing of the Last Post, which sets the scene for a memorable day. The race is then started at 11:05.

With so many of their members lives touched by the RUH, the race organisers are pleased to be supporting The Forever Friends Appeal. Race Director, Steve Herring said:

“Based in Oldland Common, Bitton Road Runners attracts runners of all abilities from east Bristol and the Keynsham/Saltford catchment areas. Every club member knows of and many have personal experience of the high level of care offered by the staff of RUH. So when the opportunity arose to extend our Sodbury Slog charity place allocation, the RUH Forever Friends Appeal was the obvious and a popular choice, especially as we recently held a post club run curry evening raising funds for Forever Friends.  As a club we look forward to working with Forever Friends this year and in future years.”

Although public entries for the Sodbury Slog have now completely sold out, The Forever Friends Appeal still has a number of charity places available! If you would like to join the incredible Sue and the rest of the team, places cost £30 (of which £20 will be donated directly to the charity) and you can choose to raise funds for a ward or department that is close to your heart, or the RUH Cancer Care Campaign. Please note: online charity entries have now closed, but you can still enter offline by emailing racedir@sodburyslog.co.uk for details. Please title your email ‘Forever Friends Slog offline entry’. Offline entries will close at midnight on 6th November. If you already have a place in the race but would still like to run for RUH patients when they need it most – the Appeal would love to hear from you!

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