Northumbria woman told she’d never walk again takes on the Great North Run

6 September 2017

Brenda (centre) with volunteers

Brenda Whittle, of Marske-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, will be taking on the Great North Run this week, after doctors told her she’d never walk again.

Brenda uses a wheelchair full time as a result of a condition that developed in her brain 20 years ago, which caused her to lose her ability to walk and speak. After intensive physiotherapy sessions, Brenda is now planning on completing the 13 miles of the Great North Run in her wheelchair and just before the finish line, she will walk the final ten steps of the race.

She said:

'I decided to take on the run because I like to challenge myself and keep myself fit. It’s always good to push yourself.

Training has been painful but fun. When I cross the finish line I’ll feel proud and probably flushed! I will also feel very grateful for all the support I’ve been given.'

Brenda is taking on the race with 16 volunteers, including staff from her care home and her friends and family, who will all be on hand to help her cross the finish line.

Ruth Hebden, volunteer co-ordinator at Marske Hall, said:

'Instead of accepting what the doctors predicted her future would be Brenda decided, after a period of shock and anger, to draw a line and rewrite her story. I am in awe of her personal resilience and strength.

'I know that it is often painful and frustrating for Brenda to push herself, but she is so committed to getting herself as independent as possible that I cannot see anything stopping her.'

Before developing her condition, Brenda had completed her third degree, a PHD in chemistry and was looking forward to a promising career.

While living at Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Marske Hall care home for the past 15 years, Brenda  has slowly been learning to talk again, feed herself, do her own washing and is now beginning to re-learn how to walk.

Brenda is hoping to raise £5,000 for Leonard Cheshire Disability, which will go towards new physio and rehabilitation equipment at Marske Hall.

Ruth said:

'Brenda is determined to support her fellow residents, many of whom are also working hard to maintain or regain strength and mobility. The money that she and the volunteers raise will have a long-lasting, positive effect on the residents at the home.'

If you would like to find out more or make a donation to Brenda’s challenge, please visit

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