Brighton will be my first ever Marathon. ‘What on Earth have I done?!’ I ask myself this question on a regular basis, but the answer is simple – I’m doing it for Hannah.
Anyone who knows me will think I’m mad. I’m usually seen out on my mountain bike and, before recently, running was not one of my favourite things to do. However, I needed a challenge, something that would push me out of my comfort zone and challenge me both mentally and physically. That’s what Hannah would do.
Han, or ‘Hen’ as we used to call each other, was a close friend, an avid gym goer, personal trainer, adrenaline junkie and a big old brain-box! I knew Hannah from the age of 18, she took me under her wing when we started working in retail together and she never failed to make me smile, even though I was predominantly on the butt end of her pranks. Hannah had a wicked sense of humour and she knew how to make others laugh even when she wasn’t feeling her best. I always admired her commitment to fundraising for Mind, a charity that meant so much to her. In 2015 she gave something back to them by completing the ‘Mind 3000 Trek’ Three Peaks Challenge for Team England.
Achieving a 1st degree honour in Sport and Exercise Science at Brighton University (I was so proud to watch her on the day of her graduation), it felt only right that I ran the Marathon in the city she spent so much of her adult education. After finishing her degree, she went on to complete a Masters and then began her PhD in Exercise Neurophysiology.
Sadly, on the 14th April 2020 Hannah took her life after a long, courageous battle with her invisible illnesses, Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. This inspirational hero was on an emotional roller coaster she could not control. ‘What goes up, must come down’, she used to say.
Hannah is the reason I am running the Brighton Marathon, Hannah is the reason I am fundraising for Mind. Having suffered with depression and mental illness myself, I have taken on her metaphorical baton by running this marathon in her memory with our friend, Holly.
Mind is a mental health charity that offers information and advice to people with mental health problems. It’s a charity close to my heart and a charity close to Hannah, her mum, Louise, and her brother, Alex. I asked Louise to send me a few words about my inspirational friend and her amazing daughter.
“What can I say about Hannah? Hannah had the most beautiful smile with a laugh to match. She had an amazing sense of humour and loved nothing more than to make people laugh and frequently played practical jokes on us all. My brother always said that Hannah should have been a stand-up comedian. Hannah was kind, caring and generous to a fault although hideously untidy and disorganised at times!
Hannah suffered with mental illness for many years. However, she was the biggest advocate for people with mental health difficulties. She really tried to raise awareness and reduce the associated stigma of mental ill health. Her friends all tell me that Hannah would check on others to make sure they were ok even when she wasn’t okay herself. That was Hannah. She is so incredibly missed.”
What I’m looking forward to most about running at the Brighton Marathon is crossing the finish line, knowing that I’ve done something amazing for Hannah and other people who are suffering with mental illness. This one’s for you, Hen.
Want to join Emily in this year’s Brighton Marathon as part of Team Mind? You can sign up here: www.mind.org.uk/brighton.