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Weight loss and personal gain as Andrew raises funds to fight childhood liver disease

A dad from Hebburn, who was inspired to help children with liver disease after his baby daughter was hospitalised with jaundice, has raised £700 for Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF) by completing the Virtual Great North Run and lost over four stone while training for the event.

Andrew Toward, a 33 year old legal clerk, had always wanted to do the Great North Run as it is something of a family tradition. As a self-confessed ‘biggish lad’, however, he knew it would require some serious changes and real motivation. That motivation came last year when his baby daughter, Amelia had such severe jaundice that she was transferred to the special care unit at Newcastle RVI.

“We knew she would be OK in the end, but it was still a massive ordeal for me and my wife, Kayleigh, to be in hospital for a week after her birth,” says Andrew. “Essentially, if it was a struggle for us to go through that, it made me think how difficult it must be for parents of families with real life-threatening conditions, particularly when the jaundice is a sign of liver disease. So, combining my desire to change my lifestyle with the desire to do something for those in need, I contacted CLDF the day after last year’s Great North Run and asked if I could run this year’s event for them. It is without doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made. I will be forever grateful for the support of CLDF. Without it, I would remain 22+ stone, probably depressed, unfit and anxious.”

Having committed to do the Run, Andrew threw himself into training and fundraising and when the actual event was called off, he immediately signed up to the Virtual run.

“I’ve discovered that I love running and the physical and mental benefits are huge,” he continues. “There were times last year when I would struggle to bend down and pick up Amelia. I was anxious and regularly felt very down in my mood. This is something I’ve struggled with over the last few years. And while I have been prescribed antidepressants in the past, NOTHING has helped more than running. I have a positive mindframe and knowing I’m doing something to make a difference to those in need, genuinely gives me that extra push when my legs start to ache! Also, knowing how the coronavirus pandemic had hit charities so badly, made me more determined to raise funds for a small charity where every penny counts.”

Although yesterday’s event was not the Great North Run that had been planned, Andrew still found the Virtual Run an amazing experience and is proud of his achievement.

“The last time I ran in a competitive race I was 13 years old. So just knowing that so many others were joining in was a real boost. I am so grateful to all my family and friends who have donated and for the amazing support of my family. Kayleigh had to look after Amelia during all my many training runs and knowing they would both be there to meet me at the end was a massive motivation for me.

“I’m a different person to the one who took on this challenge. I’m positive, motivated and committed to the change I’ve made. CLDF and the Great North Run have changed my life. I am eternally grateful. It’s my time now to try and help others.”

Alison Taylor, Chief Executive of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation commented: “CLDF is the only UK charity dedicated to fighting all childhood liver diseases, by providing information and emotional support, funds for research and a voice for all those affected. In order to do this however, we rely on voluntary donations, and now more than ever, those donations really do count. So we are thrilled that Andrew was inspired to support us in this way and so pleased that he has gained so much out it.”

You can still support Andrew’s Great North Run by going to www.justgiving.com/towardgnr

For more information on CLDF visit childliverdisease.org.

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