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Join the Herts 10k

PUBLISHED: 13:30 03 October 2017

Runners head off - thousands take part each year (photo: Rennie Grove)

Runners head off - thousands take part each year (photo: Rennie Grove)

Rennie Grove

A father who lost his wife to cancer explains why the Herts 10k, which takes place this month, holds a very special place in his heart

Team spirit is a big part of the event (photo: Rennie Grove) Team spirit is a big part of the event (photo: Rennie Grove)

Paul Sutton from Harpenden has already undertaken two long-distance challenges this year for Rennie Grove Hospice Care and on Sunday October 8, he will join thousands of others at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden for the charity’s 12th annual Herts 10k.

While Paul enjoys keeping fit and pushing himself to achieve physical challenges, there is another reason why he pounded the streets in this year’s London Marathon, pedalled 100 miles between the city and Surrey in the Prudential Ride London just a few months ago, and why he’s returning to run his sixth consecutive Herts 10k. In 2011 his wife, Antonella, received a diagnosis of endometrial cancer. She had surgery straight away but in January 2012 the couple were told that her condition was terminal. They were referred to Rennie Grove, who visited them at home. The charity’s occupational therapist arranged specialist equipment to make Antonella more comfortable and the Rennie Grove physiotherapist helped reduce the fluid building up in her limbs with regular massage.

‘The physio taught me how to do the massage for Antonella,’ Paul says, ‘which helped me feel empowered and truly involved in her care. She and the OT offered not only concrete assistance but also emotional support and coping strategies. Antonella didn’t want to talk about her condition and by June or July of 2012 I was struggling to hold it all together. They suggested I attend a six-week course of counselling at Grove House, which was so helpful because it got me back to a point where I could be there for Antonella. Thanks to all those interventions on the part of Rennie Grove, we were able to have her with us at home until the end.’

Alongside the counselling Paul found another source of emotional support when he rediscovered running.

‘I was amazed at how therapeutic it could be. I would run the same route each time and it was my safe space. The regular rhythm was reassuring and would send me into an almost hypnotic state. Running got me through those toughest of times and enabled me to keep caring for Antonella. I even ran that route on the day she died. I found it such a comfort and source of strength.’

After Antonella’s death, Paul had further counselling, which he says he found really valuable. It was the Herts 10k however that he says, ‘prompted me to turn my life around’.

‘I realised that I needed to be fit and healthy because my kids only had me now. So that first Herts 10k in 2012 was a life-changing moment. There’s a real warmth and a great atmosphere on race day. The course is fantastic and it’s just good fun. It’s my favourite run.’

Paul Sutton (photo: Rennie Grove) Paul Sutton (photo: Rennie Grove)

Paul adds that running and keeping fit by setting and achieving goals helps him to keep moving forward. Being able to fundraise while he’s doing it for the charity that helped him and his wife at the most difficult of times is an added incentive and a way of giving back.

‘Every single engagement we had with Rennie Grove was incredibly positive and helpful. You sense that they genuinely care and to feel this when you are going through such tough times is crucial. You need a human face and this is what they offer alongside professional, expert care. I recognise how important the fundraising is to make sure they can keep on caring and so I’m really happy to be able to use my new-found fitness to support this wonderful service in our local community.’

To Join Paul at the Herts 10k on Sunday October 8 and help make a difference in our community, sign up now at herts10k.com

Rennie Grove provides specialist responsive 24/7 at home care for adults and children with life-limiting illness in Herts and Bucks, plus a range of additional services such as a day hospice and nurse clinics at Grove House in St Albans. The charity supports the whole family following diagnosis, during the illness and through bereavement. All services are provided at no cost to the patient and Rennie Grove relies heavily on public support to fund 84 per cent of its £7.6m annual budget.

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