Senior Sister Lucy Lowe and Health Care Assistant Claire Walker from Bradford Teaching Hospitals’ Emergency Department are participating in this year’s Great North Run to honour the memory of Claire’s son, Axl, who sadly passed away shortly before his third birthday in 2018.

The duo aims to raise £2,000, which will contribute to Bradford Hospitals’ Charity’s ‘Sparkle for Axl’ campaign. This initiative supports young patients by acquiring entertainment, and educational, sensory, and distraction toys.

Claire said; “Every time I run a big race – I’ve three more half marathons booked for next year – there is always someone special and dear on my mind – my son Axl.

“This will be the second Great North Run (GNR) that I will have completed since Axl died and I will carry on running and raising money for Bradford Hospitals Charity as we received wonderful care and support from the children’s wards when Axl was sick.

“I now work for the Trust as it’s my way of giving something back to the NHS and it makes me feel positive and like I am still doing something connected to Axl. Whenever I take part in the GNR, I will be doing it with him in mind.”

Running provided Claire with a focal point while caring for Axl, who battled congenital dyserythropoietic anaemia (CDA), a rare blood disorder characterised by a reduction in red blood cell count and lower-than-normal levels of haemoglobin.

Sadly, after two unsuccessful bone marrow transplants, Axl passed away at Leeds General Infirmary on March 7, 2018, just three days shy of his third birthday.

In that same year, Claire completed her initial GNR. The 13.1-mile course stretching from Newcastle to South Shields, known as the world’s largest half marathon, is scheduled for September 10. Running has consistently offered Claire a constructive outlet for her grief.

“It has been my saviour going for a run,” explains Claire who became involved in fundraising for Bradford Hospitals’ Children’s Charity after Axl received treatment on our children’s wards.

Sparkle for Axl is an annual Christmas event where the community donates funds instead of toys. This enables the staff to procure the necessary toys and equipment for the children’s wards.

In preparation for the run, the pair currently engage in three weekly running sessions. They’ve also participated in 10K races. Last year, Claire accomplished her inaugural London Marathon.

Lucy commented; “Claire is an amazing runner and I am incredibly honoured to be running for Sparkle for Axl.”

You can find Lucy and Claire’s JustGiving page here