SUMMING up the sprit of a remarkable Great South Run weekend, double amputee Charlotte Hughes rose from her wheelchair to walk across the finishing line.
The Clanfield mother-of-four was pushed by a team of 13 friends and relatives calling themselves Charlie’s Angels, but was determined to travel the final 1,000ft herself.
Linking arms with her loyal supporters Charlotte bravely strode home on her prosthetic legs to complete the 10-mile road race along with around 16,300 other competitors.
‘It was such a good feeling to walk across the line,’ said Charlotte. ‘But really my team did all the work.
‘The last part was hard on my legs – they walk faster than me so it was almost like running – but it wasn’t too bad.
‘I’m just so glad I did it, the atmosphere out there was amazing and the crowd just give you so much support.
‘And I can’t believe what my team are doing for me; I’m so proud of them and I can’t thank them enough. No-one could ask for better friends.’
The 37-year-old, of South Lane, lost her legs in 2008 when they had to be amputated because of a devastating virus.
Charlotte contracted Group A streptococcus and her symptoms began with just a sore throat. But the virus quickly raged through her body, meaning both legs had to be amputated within six months.
Although she has NHS prosthetic legs Charlotte would now love to get top-of-the range silicone covers to make them look real.
She said: ‘We are nearing the end of a long journey, it took three years to get to this point.
‘Now I can walk without sticks but it is often still very painful and I would like to be able to not be self-conscious about my legs.
‘We raised around £700 from sponsorship so we are getting there, slowly but surely.’
Her friend Zoe King, 36, of Furzedown Crescent, Havant, said the race had been a wonderful experience. It was hard going and my feet were very sore towards the end,’ she said.
‘Which I suppose gave me a small idea of the constant pain Charlie lives with every day. We could never do enough to help her.’
Charlotte joined thousands of runners including a team of red watch firefighters, from Southsea fire station, who took part in full life-saving uniform.
Southsea red watch manager Rob Dellow, 41, said: ‘Running a 10-mile race is one thing, but doing it with 20kg on your back is something else.’
Dan Lee, 26, from Petersfield, ran in his full fireman uniform for the Fire Fighters Charity and said: ‘It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life so far. But it was for a really great cause.’