'I'll run 10k every day until my mum overcomes Covid'

January 26 2021

A KINGSWOOD teacher has vowed to run 10k every day while his mother is in Southmead Hospital with Covid.

Andrew Marshall-Aherne and his mum Christine

Andrew Marshall-Aherne, who is assistant principal at King’s Oak Academy, has so far raised more than £2,000 for Southmead Hospital Charity.

He wants to thank the hospital staff for the care they are giving his mother, Christine Marshall, 68, in the intensive care unit as she battles the virus.

Although the whole family caught Covid around New Year, only Christine became ill enough to be hospitalised on 8 January.

Andrew, 36, from Lyde Green, said he, husband Craig, plus sons George, seven, and Jacob, four, all caught Covid at the same time as his parents.

He said: “I have to admit I was a bit blase about the virus until now. I’d seen it at school a lot with no serious effects. I was naive about the impact it can have.

“We all got the virus and even my dad, who’s in his 70s, was completely asymptomatic. I thought we’d all get over it quickly.

“But in the space of a couple of days my mum went from being a fit and healthy 68-year-old woman with no underlying issues, to someone with absolutely no energy, unable to stand or move.

“She was fighting for breath as her lungs became more and more inflamed and her temperature rose to 40C.

“My mum was an incredibly strong-minded, independent, proud lady until Covid struck her down with secondary pneumonia and an invasive, fungal infection in her lungs. This is going to be an extremely tough battle for her to fight, but it’s one we believe she can do and hold hope that she can get through this all.

“The staff in Southmead Hospital have been so very caring, supportive, loving and dedicated to offering first-class care to my mum.”

Christine, from Coalpit Heath, was a headteacher for 30 years before setting up a school improvement business. She is also chair of governors at Watermore primary school in Frampton Cotterell.

Andrew, a former pupil at The Ridings in Winterbourne, said he set up the running challenge to feel he was doing something for his mum, despite being in recovery from Covid himself.

He said: “In the past I’ve used a treadmill at the gym regularly and have run 10k before, but I’ve never done this kind of distance every day.

“The runs take around 45 to 50 minutes each night, in the dark once the boys are in bed. It’s actually a good time to get a
bit of headspace and have a break from everything that’s going on.

 “We’re not allowed to visit my mum in hospital so I use the runs as time to think about and ‘talk to’ my mum. As I run, I listen to her favourite music, such as Annie Lennox and Phil Collins.

“My parents have been married around 40 years and this is the first time my dad’s been at home without her, which he’s finding hard.

“I will keep my pledge to do this distance every day until my mum is out of intensive care, even if my legs give up and I have to walk it.

“I’ve been amazed at all the kind words from people who’ve donated money on the Just Giving page. My mum has had a positive impact on so many lives.”

Andrew also rallied friends and family to light a candle in their windows on the evening of January 20 to give hope and support to both his mother and all the other families fighting the virus and living through a dark time.

His children are still attending Blackhorse Primary School in Downend while he works full-time heading up pastoral care at King's Oak and Craig helps Covid patients as an orthopaedic practitioner at Royal United Hospital in Bath.

He said: “The school are being brilliant and the children don’t really know how serious things are. They just know that Granny’s had to go to hospital.

“Hopefully my runs will not only raise money for Southmead Hospital Charity, but also raise awareness of the wonderful job that the NHS is doing under very difficult circumstances.”

Andrew’s fundraising page is at justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-marshall-aherne