Running for Emily

Ashley’s daughter, Emily, received life-saving surgery at GOSH. Since then, he’s run three marathons and raised more than £50,000 for GOSH. In 2018, he took on the London Marathon for the fourth time – dressed as charity mascot Bernard the Bear!

Today, Emily is seven. In the summer of 2014, aged just three, she underwent emergency brain surgery at GOSH. 

Rushed to GOSH

Emily’s eyesight had been getting worse and she was putting on weight with no real explanation. A simple eye test led to her referral to St. Mary’s Hospital at Paddington, from where she referred again to the team at GOSH.

Tests were carried out that discovered Emily had a large brain tumour that was pressing on her optic nerve, causing the problems with her vision. After two operations, Emily underwent pioneering Proton Beam Therapy to shrink the tumour, which was hugely successful.

Unfortunately, in March 2015, things took a turn for the worse. Emily had multiple strokes and that summer underwent another operation at GOSH – this time to reconfigure the pathways of blood vessels on one side of her brain. Since then, Emily has gone from strength to strength.

Fighting back

“Emily is remarkably resilient and strong-willed,” says her dad, Ashley, “She seems to bounce back from every challenge and setback that confronts her with seemingly boundless energy and strength.”

Her treatment continues – and Ashley believes that GOSH is the best place to be. “One of the greatest tributes to GOSH is that she has no anxiety about going into hospital: it has been nothing but a positive experience for her on every visit, which is thanks to the hard work and ethos of all the GOSH staff.”

On her visits to GOSH, Emily likes to ride around the ward in a little push-along car and loves the play facilities. “It’s an incredible place, lovely and light and airy with a real family feel to it. In the darker days when things were really tough for us, as parents when we were sleeping on a chair next to her bed the ward sister would always greet us in the morning with a cup of tea. They really care for the parents as well as the patients.”

Taking on the challenge

Ashley always felt that he should do the London Marathon ‘at some point’ – and when Emily first became ill, he found himself with a cause to run for. In 2015, Ashley and his supporters raised £21,000. A year later, they raised £18,800. In 2017, Ashley reached an incredible milestone – topping more than £50,000 raised across his three runs. However, in 2018, Ashley wanted to do something different to spread the word and raise even more for the hospital. 

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Great Ormond Street Hospital after all that the staff have done for my daughter Emily since her diagnosis. Emily is doing amazingly well and her tumour is now stable. It is a great joy and blessing to see her thriving at school and growing up so fast. Not only do we continue to depend on Great Ormond Street Hospital for their support, but every day there are other children and families who arrive at the hospital embarking on similar journeys.”

Ashley has had a very busy year – as well as training for his fourth marathon, he’s appeared as a contestant on the BBC’s ‘Masterchef’. His fundraising efforts have also been helped by incredible support from his local community, particularly the congregation at Norwich Cathedral, where he works as a Master of Music.

“GOSH is indisputably a worthy cause," says Ashley, "I am fortunate to be well placed with my work to generate sponsorship, not least because Emily is a much-loved member of the community at Norwich Cathedral. I feel this is the least I can do on behalf of our family for GOSH after all they have done and continue to do for us.”

Your next run could be lifesaving. Could you take on a challenge to help children like Emily? Find your perfect fundraising event today – and for a limited time only, get 25% off registration with code ‘RUN4GOSH’ on selected running events!

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