A CHILDREN’S nurse is all geared up to run a half-marathon in memory of her husband, who persuaded her to take up the challenge before he died.

Julie Hughes, from Chineham, will be joined by a group of 12 family and friends in the Reading half-marathon on March 2, to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The 50-year-old’s husband Simon was diagnosed with MS in 2007. His symptoms started as pins and needles in his feet and he often fell over while running. He deteriorated quickly and within two years was reliant on a wheelchair.

Julie said: “Simon was an inspirational man and although he never realised it, he touched so many people’s lives with his generosity of character and his aspiration to make people feel good about themselves.”

Simon attended regular physiotherapy sessions, supported by the local branch of the MS Society.

Julie said: “This gave him an outlet to continue with sporting activities despite his disabilities. He never ceased to encourage and support others in the group.

“It was heart-warming to recognise the true camaraderie and friendship that developed. Groups like this would not be possible without the funding and support of the MS Society, and knowing what a real difference this makes to the lives of people with MS and their carers, it has inspired me to support the charity in loving memory of my wonderful husband.”

Simon died in May 2013 aged 54, after persuading his wife to train for a half-marathon.

Julie said: “We shared a love of running and when Simon was no longer able to run, I didn’t feel it was something I wanted to continue without him running alongside me and encouraging me.

“He persuaded me to take it up again early in 2013 and suggested I do a half-marathon to raise funds for the local MS group.

“I decided if that’s what he wanted me to do, then I’ll do it. I knew it would be a tough challenge but I had the support of family and friends who are runners and who shared my vision to fulfil Simon’s wish.”

All money raised by the group, who are aged between 17 and 60, will go to the Basingstoke branch of the MS Society, which will use the funds to pay for gym equipment and support classes.

Mark Haymes, the MS Society’s area fundraiser for the south, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Julie and her family and friends for this amazing fundraising effort. This is a great way of paying tribute to Simon and I’m sure the money they raise will make a big difference to the local branch.”