A runner in the KPMG team for the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run has revealed that she is fundraising for Cure Leukaemia in memory of her sister, who contracted a childhood form of the disease and passed away 42 years ago at the age of just 13.
Five days before this year’s half marathon, which takes place on October 14th, Sophie Ash’s sister Kate Smith would have been celebrating her 55th birthday.
Philip (left), Kate (middle) & Sophie (right) when the siblings were at school
And, in Sophie’s work as a Pensions Director, a person’s 55th birthday defines their youngest potential retirement age, a significant milestone.
“I do a fair bit of running but never previously to raise money,” Sophie explains, “but it feels very appropriate to mark Kate’s 55th birthday in this way.
“Although it’s more than four decades now since Kate passed away memories of that time are never far away.
“It was the famously hot summer of 1976 and even talk recently comparing our heatwave to what happened in that summer brings it all back.
“I was 14, my brother Russell was sixteen and we also have a younger brother Philip, but it is my parents I have always felt for most.
“For a parent to lose a child is surely the saddest thing of all.
“I can still remember how quickly it all happened.
“The doctors were actually taking photos throughout Kate’s treatment because her case was so unusual.
“It is truly wonderful to think that continuing advances in treatment mean someone in a similar situation today would have a better chance of recovery.”
As well as fundraising and raising awareness, Sophie is also planning to get some of Kate’s old friends back together to mark the occasion.
She adds: “We are all still living in the Aldridge area where we were brought up, and as often happens when someone passes away, we somehow didn’t stay in regular touch.
“It would be good to get back in contact again and share some memories.”
There is also a second reason Sophie has picked up the baton this year ‑ her KPMG colleague Jenna Ostrowski, who is booked for the forthcoming London to Paris bike‑ride just over a year after being diagnosed with leukaemia.
“Jenna and I have previously shared work projects, but when I read her story and understood the potential difference that fundraising for Cure Leukaemia can make, she inspired me to have a go.
“Seeing what she has been doing has been fantastic.”
Describing herself as a ‘Parkrun addict’ Sophie is not the only family member to regularly cross the finishing line.
Her mother Pat Smith, who is in her 70s, recently notched up her 100th Parkrun, and brother Philip, a regular at events in the Liverpool area, is also planning to take part in the Great Birmingham Run.
The half marathon is also nothing new for Sophie, who completed the full Birmingham Marathon last year – “my first and my last!”
The additional element though on October 14th will be running as part of her work team.
“When I heard that KPMG were putting in a few runners I jumped at the opportunity to join the team,” she explains.
“Everyone is urging each other on towards what will be a great day.”
To support Sophie’s efforts in memory of her sister please visit the Just Giving page ‑ HERE
How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives