EMPLOYEES at a Portsmouth ski tour operator are set to take on the Great South Run in memory of their colleague who died of a brain tumour.
A total of 14 workers from Milton-based Peak Retreats and its sister company Ski Collection will take on the 10-mile Simplyhealth feat on October 21 – in memory of much-loved colleague Valerie Fouger.
She died aged just 31 in 2013, two years after being taken to a French hospital because she suddenly collapsed during a skiing holiday with friends.
After the incident, she remained in a coma for three hours before coming round and following tests was given the devastating news she had a brain tumour.
She went through several operations and rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy before relapsing.
And following a two-year battle, she passed away peacefully on her 31st birthday in November, 2013.
After the loss of their colleague and close friend, the Peak Retreats team decided to sign up to take on a challenge together for Brain Tumour Research in Valerie’s memory.
They now plan to run the Simplyhealth Great South Run in ski goggles.
The group comprises Alison Willis, Claire Archbold, Charlotte Guest, Sarah England, Marie-Anne Haskell, Lyndsey Hawkins, Tim Reed, Pierre Marie-Laure Zobou, Marie-Sophie Baissett, Molly Jackson and Steve Joyce – who are all part of Peak Retreats’ reservations, marketing and product departments.
They will also be joined by Emilie Brard and company founder Nathalie Soma, who are both based in France, and are travelling to the city especially for the event alongside managing director Chris Woodbridge-Cox.
Nathalie, 49, said: ‘In March, 2011 she went on a ski holiday with her friends and passed out one morning.
‘She ended up staying in hospital for two months having various scans and tests until her diagnosis was given.
‘She managed to join us for Peak Retreats’ 10th Anniversary in 2012 and then passed away on her 31st birthday a year later.
‘We lost a proud and efficient colleague, but we also lost a very good friend. She was so
young and it makes you realise that you should never take anything for granted.
‘Valerie is our inspiration for taking on the Simplyhealth Great South Run and Brain Tumour Research has become a cause that is very close to the company’s heart.
‘Her photo has been on my fridge door for the past five years and inspires me every
Charlotte Guest, who works in Peak Retreats’ reservations team, added: ‘Valerie was like a ray of sunshine.
‘She was so loving, happy, funny, positive and extremely hard working.
‘We spent a lot of time together and she always made me smile – it was such a pleasure to have her in my life I miss her dearly.’
The group will join 20,000 runners in the Great South Run – taking part to rack up best times and raise cash for an array of good causes.
Organisers say the fast and flat 10-mile event ‘celebrates everything that is good’ about Portsmouth – taking runners though Portsmouth Historic Dockyard before they cross the
finish line on the sea front, overlooking the Solent.
The weekend also includes the Simplyhealth Great South 5k and the Simplyhealth Junior
and Mini Great South Run, taking place the day before on Saturday, October 20.
Many of the group from Peak Retreats are fundraising as a personal challenge for the first time.
Alison, who is from Gosport, ran the event last year and is looking forward to taking it on again as part of a team.
She said: ‘I have taken part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run before and loved it. I am
so excited to return this year as running in a team of colleagues sounded like great fun.
‘It is a fantastic way to team build. It brings a massive sense of achievement which will be
great for us to all experience together.
‘Running in memory of someone so special is inspiring and we hope to be able to raise awareness about this awful disease.’
To support the team’s fundraising for Valerie, click here.
Or for more information about the Simplyhealth Great South Run, or to enter, visit