A Cramlington woman who worked hard to get running despite being diagnosed with a life-debilitating disease at the age of 18 will once again take part in the Great North Run.
And Ailsa Richardson is aiming to run the whole distance – 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields – on Sunday after running some of the half marathon when she did it for the first time last year.
She is fund-raising for the charity 4Louis, which supports those affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and the death of a baby or child. It was established by a family in 2009 following their own stillbirth loss.
In 2015, she was pregnant with her second child. Corey Leo was sadly stillborn at 36 weeks on November 20 of that year due to a true knot in his umbilical cord.
Ailsa and her husband Chris, both aged 41, were then given the use of a ‘cuddle cot’. It helps parents spend more time with their child before they have to say goodbye as the cot is a specialised cool mattress designed to slow down the deterioration of their stillborn baby.
Afterwards, they received a memory box with photos of their son put together by 4Louis. Other items in these boxes include a candle, a card and an acknowledgement of life certificate.
The couple followed 4Louis on Facebook and found out that the charity enables parents to donate a cuddle cot in memory of their child.
They raised enough funds for two cuddle cots in 2016 – one was donated to the Great North Children’s Hospital at the RVI in Newcastle and the other to the University Hospital of North Tees – and a bit extra, which went to 4Louis.
Ailsa wanted to do something else for the charity and chose the Great North Run.
She said: “I was diagnosed with Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) in 1995. It is a joint disease characterised by inflammation and overgrowth of the joint lining and this growth harms the bone next to the joint.
“After having the synovial lining of my knee removed seven times over several years and a total knee replacement in June 2012, I never thought I could run, so I planned to walk the half marathon distance.
“But in January 2017, I joined my local These Girls Can Run group and with their help and support I realised that I could run and enjoy it and last year, I managed to run the first nine miles of the Great North Run and then run and walk the last 4.1 miles.
“I surprised myself with how much running I was able to do and after completing a 12-mile training run a couple of weeks ago, I’m feeling confident that I will be able to run the whole distance on Sunday for 4Louis and my little boy.
“For the families who have suffered such a devastating loss, the memory boxes provide precious memories for them that they wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the charity.”
Her sister Sarah Byrne and brother-in-law Paul Byrne, both 39, will once again be doing the Great North Run with Ailsa.
As well as sponsor forms, an online page has been set-up. To make a donation, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ailsa-richardson2