Friends run in memory of University friend

TWO university researchers ran 70 miles in two days in memory of their colleague and friend.

Friday, 5th May 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:55 pm
Nicola and Bernadette at the finish in Twickenham

Nicola Brown, 34, and Bernadette Dancey, 36, took part in the ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ challenge to help raise awareness for blood and stem cell donation.

They started the run at the University of Portsmouth as it was where they worked with their colleague Dr Alex Milligan, ran through Godalming, and finished at St Mary’s University in Twickenham.

Dr Milligan lost her fight with leukaemia after a 15-month battle on February 23. She had been part of the department for 10 years, as an undergraduate and masters student, and later as a PhD student and senior research associate, and was a popular and much-loved colleague.

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Dr Alex Milligan

Nicola, a lecturer in health and exercise, said: ‘Sometime in November 2015 Alex was diagnosed with leukaemia and throughout her treatment she raised awareness.

‘We decided to do the run to try to get people to sign up and give blood and join the stem cell register instead of asking for sponsorship.’

They ran 40 miles on the first day and then finished with 30 miles on the second day.

Bernadette, who is also a lecturer in health and exercise, said: ‘We did a lot of running and trained for over a year.

Dr Alex Milligan

‘We started running around five to 10km but then we realised that we needed to up it so we took on a coach.

‘Having the coach helped as they wrote our programme – an ultra-marathon training programme that we did for a year.’

The friends say they were buoyed by the amount of support they received and the awareness they raised.

Nicola, who is also a member of the breast cancer research group at the university, said: ‘We had a lot of support all along the way.

‘It was only five miles of the run that we were alone, all the other miles we had support and for the last three miles 15 people were running with us.

‘All the way through training and the event we received updates if someone had signed up to give blood or signed up on the stem cell register. Since doing the run 170 people have signed up to donate.

‘It’s great to know we’ve raised awareness. So many people came up to us saying they had never even heard about stem cell donations before so it’s great to make more people aware.

‘I have no doubt that Alex would be proud of what we have achieved.’

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