Everyone lining up to do the Great North Run has their own challenges to face and their own reasons to participate, and Charlotte Proud has overcome more than most in her determination to run.
The 30-year-old from Gateshead has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, and has suffered over 50 fractures in her life. So many in fact, that Charlotte says she has now lost count.
Despite this, on Sunday, Charlotte will be one of the tens of thousands of runners anxiously waiting to begin the Great North Run.
This will be her sixth year and not even breaking a bone in her hand in the week leading up to the race will hold her back. Her story is proving so inspirational that she will be featured on the BBC’s national television coverage of the Great North Run.
One of approximately 5,000 people in the UK affected by brittle bone disease, Charlotte was diagnosed when she was two. Initially she was not allowed to attend a mainstream school, a decision that was thankfully overturned, let alone take part in any physical activity.
With the support of her family, teachers and the NHS, Charlotte has overcome many obstacles to live a fulfilling and active life, completing a degree in Sports Development with Coaching at Northumbria University and becoming a physiotherapy associate practitioner based on Ward 37 (Critical Care) at the Freeman Hospital.
Charlotte says: “To begin with, I was excluded from P.E. lessons in primary school as nobody was sure if I could do it or how to involve me. Instead, I was given jobs to do in the classroom like sharpening pencils.
“Thankfully, I managed to prove everyone wrong and by the end of Year 6 I was captain of the school netball team.
“My secondary school teachers were brilliant and really encouraging and I played a lot of sport including netball, hockey and football. But as much as I love sport, eventually I realised it’s not a sensible option for me and about 10 years ago I discovered a love of running.
“Obviously, I have to be very careful and not fall over. And I have to be especially careful when there’s ice or snow.
“It really helps me physically and mentally. Especially after a day at work. I love my job but there’s no denying it’s been really hard working throughout the pandemic. Running is a huge help in dealing with that.”
Charlotte’s friend, Nicholas
Originally from Shropshire, Charlotte lost a childhood friend, Nicholas Rhodes, to leukaemia when they were both 12-years-old and is running the Great North Run for our Foundation in his memory.
Charlotte chose us because she works with many post-operative cancer patients at the Freeman and she knows the importance of the work we fund.
Charlotte adds: “Because I work in Intensive Care at the Freeman, I help care for a lot of post op cancer patients. Some of them will go on to clinical trials and I know how important that new research into cancer funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is.
“That’s why the Foundation is so important for me. From working in the Freeman, I know how much amazing work they fund and how important that is to people who are in a terrible situation.
“My friend Nicholas was just 12 when he died from leukaemia. He’d have been 30 this year and I do think about him when I run, especially if I’m struggling and have to dig deep. Basically, I have the chance to keep going and he didn’t. His memory inspires me to push myself and this Great North Run is for him.”
Filming in Newcastle
Mark Robson says: “We’re all in awe of Charlotte’s determination to succeed and very proud that she’s chosen to run for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. I think my dad would also admire her greatly and be amazed by everything she’s overcome.
“We know how careful she has to be and it’s desperately unlucky for her to be injured just before the run. My family and I are looking forward to welcoming her safely home at the finish.”
To sponsor Charlotte, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/charlotte-proud3