A FLINTSHIRE company boss has run his first marathon and raised almost £9,000 in memory of a ‘beautiful’ young woman who died suddenly from a rare condition.
Paul Hollingsworth took part in the Chester Marathon last month and has now more than doubled his original £4,000 fundraising target in aid of Ataxia UK.
He ran the 26-mile race and fundraised the money to remember Scarlett Salisbury, the daughter of his close friend Jeremy, who died in March, just days after celebrating her 21st birthday with family and friends, including Paul and his wife Suzanne.
Scarlett, of Colwyn Bay, was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia when she was eight, which is the most common form of Ataxia – the name given to a group of neurological disorders which affect balance, coordination and speech.
The former Rydal Penrhos pupil, who never let her condition dictate her life, was weeks away from gaining a degree in Media Studies at Bangor University when she died at Glan Clwyd Hospital from heart problems associated with her condition.
Paul, 54, managing director of Hollingsworth Group in Sandycroft, said: “Scarlett, or Scally as we called her, was an absolutely beautiful girl and so full of happiness and life.
“Running a marathon is not easy, but at the points where I found it hard, I only had to think of Scarlett and what her family, our very good friends, are going through and I used that as a driver when it got difficult.”
Paul, of Gorsedd, near Holywell, who is dad to Gemma, 28, Barney, 24, Louie, 12, and Lottie, five, added: “I am immensely proud of the amount of money raised and really touched by the generosity of all the sponsors. There were more than 100 donors. I can’t quite believe the amount they have helped me raise and it will be great to hand this over to Ataxia UK so they can continue their work supporting other families in the same situation and trying to find a cure.
“I would like to sincerely thank all who have donated to date whether it be large companies who donated £500, to unknown individuals who donated £5. Every donation counts and has helped me to raise this brilliant amount.”
Scarlett’s family, dad Jeremy, mum Lowri, and older brother Henry, 24, were there waiting to congratulate Paul as he crossed the finishing line.
Jeremy, who is the Director of Salisburys Chartered Accountants based in St Asaph, said: “We are all thrilled at Paul’s achievement and the fantastic sum of money he has been able to raise in Scarlett’s memory which will go towards helping others dealing with Ataxia and the devastation it causes.
“These moments are hard for us. It brings our loss back into focus but it also helps because we know Scarlett is not forgotten and was looked upon so fondly by people, like our friend Paul, who put themselves out and do these tough challenges.
“We loved Scarlett so very dearly and it is with great pride that we hear and are part of all these things that people are doing in her name.
“They are crucial to raising awareness of Ataxia which is very important to us because we have to keep the momentum up so work will be done and funds will be raised to eventually break through and find a cure.
“Sadly this will all come too late for our beautiful girl but it may eventually stop other families having to live with the deep sadness which we accept will never go away.”
Paul completed the marathon in four hours and 45 minutes, and said: “The atmosphere was incredible and I am really glad to have taken part.
“It has felt like a real personal achievement and I am determined to have another go at one before too long. The training is a lot of hard work but it has definitely not put me off and it was all worth it, coming over the finishing line, knowing I had got round and knowing I had raised all the money for Ataxia UK.”
CEO of Ataxia UK, Sue Millman, said: It’s amazing how people rise to new challenges when given the opportunity to do something to benefit the ataxia community in memory of a friend or relative.
“This brilliant work will ultimately contribute to success in finding treatments and cures for all of the ataxias.”
Paul’s Go Fund Me page is still open for donations. Go to https://uk.gofundme.com/f/paul039s-campaign-for-ataxia-uk