April 12, 2024

Jenny is running the TCS London Marathon for Horatio’s Garden

On 21 April 2024, Cheltenham-based Jenny Walford will run the TCS London Marathon in support of Horatio’s Garden.

Jenny was inspired to take part in the marathon by her cousin Vik. After being diagnosed with endocarditis, an infection of the heart, Vik spent months in hospital waiting for the decision to operate. When she went into surgery, Vik’s heart stopped, with doctors working for 18 hours to save her while her family waited for news, fearing the worst. Thankfully she survived, but complications creating a lack of blood supply to her spine meant that Vik lost the use of her legs.

Vik remained on the cardiology ward for a while, as her heart was the primary concern. After a gruelling few weeks, Vik and her family were deeply relieved when she was transferred to the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, giving her more time and space to come to terms with being newly disabled. The hospital was, in Jenny’s words, “a fantastic place that gave us all hope.”

It was here that the family first found solace in Horatio’s Garden Midlands. Soon Vik began to return to her old self, entertaining the ward, planning for the future, and vowing never to say ‘no’ to anything because of her wheelchair.

Since leaving hospital, Vik’s life has resumed in ways she never imagined. Marking almost exactly a year to the day that Vik was finally discharged from hospital, Jenny will be running the TCS London Marathon for Horatio’s Garden, raising money to support the place that brought Vik and her family so much comfort.

Jenny says: “It means everything to me that I get to represent Horatio’s Garden at the 2024 London Marathon. My cousin Vik is so dear to me and we watched her life get turned upside down when she lost the use of her legs during heart surgery. What followed was a painful journey, but we were given hope when she was transferred to the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital and Horatio’s Garden.

“These wonderful spaces are where people who feel like their lives have just ended learn to live again and see a life worth living. Not only that, but they provide the most comforting and enriching place for friends and family to reconnect with their loved one after such a traumatic event – you truly forget you’re in a hospital and heal together. The thought of Vik and the countless others these gardens help is what will get me through my first marathon.”

Jenny is also an Ambassador for the Horatio’s Garden Spring Forward Challenge, which encourages people to set a personal movement goal and get active during the month of April. Speaking of her support for the challenge, Jenny said: “I love the Horatio’s Garden Spring Forward Challenge! Running really helps my mental health and it’s made all the better knowing you’re supporting such a brilliant charity at the same time. I love a slow run – perfect for the mind and spring wildlife watching – I’d encourage anyone who thinks running isn’t for them to give it a go and support Horatio’s Garden in providing beautiful and vital outdoor spaces for people who really need them.”

We are so grateful to Jenny for sharing her story with us, and for choosing to run the TCS London Marathon in support of Horatio’s Garden. To donate to Jenny’s fundraising page, click here.

Jenny was recently interviewed about her fundraising journey on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. To listen, click here and head to 3h 17m 9s.

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