Valerie Harrold – a veteran of London, Boston and New York Marathons – was paralysed from the neck down two years ago after falling 150 metres from a cliff during a walking holiday in Austria.
This Sunday, her daughter-in-law Diane Armstrong will step into Valerie’s running shoes to take on the Great North Run to raise funds for the Leonard Cheshire Disability care home that supports her with 24 hour care.
Here is their story, in Diane’s own words:
“Leonard Cheshire Disability is a charity close to my heart. For the last 14 months, my mother-in-law Valerie has been a resident of the charity’s Holehird Nursing Home in the Lake District.
Valerie suffered a life changing accident in 2013, falling what is believed to be about 150 metres. She was airlifted to hospital and underwent emergency surgery.
Valerie spent many months in a coma following her accident. The injuries she sustained included a severe brain injury, while she was also paralysed from the neck down and left partially sighted.
Unfortunately the brain injury has affected Valerie’s ability to swallow and she is fed through an intravenous pump at Holehird Nursing Home. We are lucky that the Home also has use of a physiotherapy team three days a week.
Prior to her accident, Valerie was one of the fittest ladies I knew in their 60s. Age was very much just a number to her and it never stopped her setting and reaching new goals. She was a keen runner and took part in over 20 marathons including London, Paris, New York, Boston, Malta and Disney World. She also competed in the Great North Run on several occasions and loved the atmosphere there.
Valerie was the one who got me running. She made me believe I could achieve and more importantly enjoy the runs.
Valerie and our family later founded the Bentham Beagles Running Club in North Yorkshire, after moving to the region. Valerie, 68, is married to Peter. They have a son and grandson.
My target is to raise £350 for Leonard Cheshire Disability but I really hope to exceed my target. As well as doing the Great North Run, the day before I will be running the Langdale Marathon. This represent 39.3 miles in total over the weekend.”