Meningitis Now staff member Clara Wiggins

Rachael 'twin-spired' to run Great North Run for Meningitis Now

Clara Wiggins | 25th August 2019

A Darlington mum has been spurred into taking part in one of the most iconic races in the world after watching her newborn twins battling meningitis

Rachael H Great North Run after twins meningitis

Rachael Holgate claimed that she was “not a runner,” despite the fact that she would be taking part in this year’s Simplyhealth Great North Run in early September to raise money for Meningitis Now. 

And although she admitted that training was tough, she added that, “When I want to give up, I will remember that my girls didn’t give up their battle – no matter how tough it was”.

Rachael’s twin girls Rita and Nancy were born in September 2016. She said they were “perfect” and she and husband James took them home. But when a midwife came to check on the newborn babies, she found Nancy was burning up. The two girls were taken immediately to hospital where things took a terrifying turn for the worse.

“We went straight to the children’s day ward and after she was stripped down they asked if her skin was always this mottled,” said Rachael.

“Moments later, in my husband’s arms, she stopped breathing…”

You can read Rachael’s account of Rita and Nancy's story here, but the twin girls are now “wonderful, bright” almost-three-year-olds. Rachael herself is now in training for her run. 

 “I am not a runner – never have been,” she said. “I’ve never even watched a half marathon let alone run one!"

“However when looking for a way to raise money for Meningitis Now I scrolled their events and the Great North Run kept cropping up and I kept thinking perhaps that’s what I should do. Maybe the endurance, the pain, the training that I will have to do will make people want to sponsor me.”

Spurred on

Rachael admitted she was finding training difficult and that she had panicked a bit about doing the run, which starts in Newcastle and finishes on the coast 13.1 miles later. But she was also feeling spurred on by her generous sponsors. “I have been overwhelmed so far as I was worried at one point that I wouldn’t make my pledge,” she said. 

“People have so many folk to sponsor – and yet so many have chosen to support my efforts, which I’m thrilled about!”

Meningitis Now’s events fundraiser Michaela Ifill said that although this year’s Great North Run was nearly here, sign-up for next year’s event would be open immediately after the race. 

“It’s such a popular race, and it will be even more popular than usual next year as it is the special 40th anniversary event, so don’t leave it long if you want a place on the Meningitis Now team,” she said. 

“We will be there to support you all the way – including helping you with your fundraising, giving you training support, and cheering you on on the day itself."

“Do get in touch if you would like any more information or would like to put your name down for a place."

“But in the meantime, best of luck to all our fantastic 2019 runners!”

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