Race Day: 09 October 2022

Catherine Runs for The Compassionate Friends Charity

Catherine Blodwell, a 36-year-old district nurse from South Oxfordshire, will be taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon in memory of her son, Noah, who tragically died after suffering a cardiac arrest as a result of an underlying and unknown health condition whilst on holiday at the age of five.

Catherine will be raising money for The Compassionate Friends Charity, who offered support and care after Noah’s death, which came just seven weeks after the birth of her second child. Catherine explains how growing up, Noah had ‘a wicked sense of humour and had so many friends at school, which he also happened to love’. She continues by explaining how Noah is ‘missed by so many people who just absolutely loved him’.

Speaking on how Noah’s sudden and unexpected death affected her life, Catherine describes how ‘the last few years have been both incredibly hard and incredibly painful - I’ve needed a lot of therapy, learning how to cope with my loss and the PTSD that came with it’.

‘I don’t feel as though I’ve got much strength, to be honest, but I wouldn’t be here without the support of my closest friends and family. I’m slowly starting to learn to adapt my life without Noah here - life will never be the same again, but you have to learn to live with grief and take each day minute by minute, hour by hour.’

Catherine now wants to raise awareness and show support for The Compassionate Friends Charity - an organisation for bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents who have suffered the loss of a young child: ‘I want to show that grief is not a taboo that you should shy away from. It needs to be spoken about because the reality is that young children do sometimes die - it’s not the natural order of life, but it happens and we need to be looked after when it does.’

‘If I can spread the word and help normalise grief, offering support to other parents and give them some kind of hope, then it’s something I need to do. Our family has been shattered, but my child’s memory will live on forever - this is an experience that bereaved parents need to share’.

Offering some words of advice to those going through a similar experience, Catherine says: ‘Take life slowly to start with - each day you get through is a huge achievement and you have to make sure you take care of yourself. Take some time for yourself, whether it be going for a walk or simply making sure that you eat a small meal at some point. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone for help when it gets hard - I urge everyone to get in touch with The Compassionate Friends helpline for support’.

It was during the first lockdown that Catherine began to suffer with crippling anxiety. Deciding that she needed a way to clear her head, she started training: ‘I needed a way to distract myself from the fear and anxiety that was taking over me - I began to run and see how fast or how far I could go.’

‘Me and my friend Lindsay had been running together for a while and decided to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon on behalf of The Compassionate Friends - we’d been considering it for a while and thought now was the right time to take part and raise money in Noah’s memory in the process.’

Sharing her thoughts on the upcoming race, Catherine says ‘Race-day will be interesting - I’m nervous about the enormity of the challenge because I don’t really consider myself to be a runner. One thing I am sure of though, is that I’ll cry when I cross that finish line. I can’t wait to hear the crowds cheering the other competitors and see so many people raising money for their own causes - it’ll just be the best atmosphere ever, but alongside that will come a huge emotional response from myself’.

Reflecting on her goals for race-day and beyond, Catherine also said: ‘I just want to raise as much money as I can for The Compassionate Friends Charity - that’ll be such a huge achievement for me. So far I’ve raised £1,300, but I’d absolutely love to raise over £2,000. With a few weeks to go, I’ll just keep campaigning as much as I can until race-day’.

To donate to Catherine’s cause, go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/catherine-blodwell