Running for solace

1st September 2018

Anne-Marie Bates tragically lost her 8 month old son Joshua to meningitis in 2016. In this moving blog she tells us how soon afterwards she began running, providing a positive outlet for her to cope

Anne-Marie running

Following a year of running Anne-Marie decided to take part in a running event in Joshua’s memory, fundraising for Meningitis Now.

“I started running very shortly after Joshua’s funeral to help me cope with losing him. It was a way of getting rid of, temporarily, the anger I felt at losing him. I also felt it in my lungs that I needed to run; it’s quite a difficult thing to explain, but it’s all I wanted to do, I just thought, I need to run."

“My mum does yoga and said in Chinese medicine each emotion is linked to an organ of the body; with grief it is the lungs and running reaches the depths of the lungs that no other exercise can reach for me. It really helped me, so I continued to do it."

“In December of 2017, about a year after Joshua died, I was at the cemetery and felt so down."

Do an event

“We have a bench opposite his gravestone and I had a ‘ping’ moment and sat there and thought, I’m doing all this running so why don’t I do an event in memory of Joshua? I instantly felt better because it felt like a positive thing to do in the face of such devastating negativity."

“I went home and told my husband Phil, that I was going to do a running event, but I wasn’t sure when or where."

“At a similar time, Phil’s employer, the online property portal Rightmove, decided to sponsor and take part in the Milton Keynes Marathon and Half Marathon, raising money for Meningitis Now, because of what had happened to our son."

“Rightmove have been such a superb support to us throughout this traumatic time and they pledged to raise £13,000."

“At the time a challenge for me would have been running 10k, as I was only used to doing 5ks."

Whole family involved

“I found out about a team marathon event and a superhero fun run of 1.5k, so it meant the whole family could be involved with fundraising in memory of Joshua."

“Our team for the marathon was called ‘Team Joshua’ and was made up of my two sisters Melanie and Rebecca, my brother-in-law Carl, and myself. We covered the marathon distance between us - it was like a relay."

“My husband and my two other children Ethan and George, my mum and dad, aunties, uncles and cousins all took part in the superhero fun run."

“Leading up to the marathon, I felt quite sad because of the reason we were doing it. At the same time, I’m always glad to be doing something that is just to remember Joshua; it makes me feel like he is involved in our family still, and it was a day devoted to him."

“The run was the hardest I’ve ever done. I did the last leg which was at about 1:15pm. I’d had nothing proper to eat since breakfast and it was almost 30 degrees!"

Mentally hard

“As soon as I started my legs felt really heavy and I knew it was going to be a long run. Other runners were walking by this stage, and there wasn’t much crowd support, so it was hard mentally."

“I kept looking up to the sky and thinking this is nothing compared to what Joshua went through."

“He had an operation to drill into his skull and drain the fluid around his brain, which broke my heart - he was so little. I had this in my mind at times during the run, to keep me going."

“Also, I thought about the fact that Joshua never got the chance to walk, let alone run, and that I am fortunate that I can run."

“I was so glad to finish and to have run all the way and not given up. I was doing it for my son and did not want to quit."

“I was absolutely exhausted at the end, but just needed food and water. I felt like we had done something so positive, and the fact we’d raised so much money to help Meningitis Now to continue supporting people affected by meningitis felt really satisfying."

“We had a really good day - anything we do in memory of Joshua is always a lovely day."

Cycling event next time?

“The whole team said we should do something next year, as we all enjoyed it so much. I’ve just bought a bike, so maybe we’ll do a cycling event next time."

“My husband is doing a Tough Mudder for Meningitis Now in September, with 14 other people including many work colleagues."

“I really appreciate all the support we’ve received from Meningitis Now, and it has been great that we could give so much back from our fundraising, and the support of Rightmove too."

“I know, sadly, that I won’t be the last mum to lose their lovely, healthy baby, suddenly to meningitis. You can only truly understand when you have experienced it."

“I feel meningitis is like a tornado; it comes in so quickly and destroys lives and leaves such devastation in its wake. You are left in utter shock and devastation thinking what the hell has just happened, because nothing - nothing - can prepare you for it."

“You are left in the silent aftermath trying to rebuild your lives, but they will never, and can never be the same ever again."

“Meningitis Now provides vital support to those left bereaved from meningitis and has helped me to connect with others going through a similar experience."