Meet our Great North Run 2018 runners

Published: Wed, 1st August 2018, 12:40:00 PM
We are delighted to introduce to you our runners in this year's iconic Great North Run in Newcastle upon Tyne this September. 
Nikki at Great North Run 2017


"I have decided to run at least TEN half marathons in a year, starting with the Great North Run 2018 and finishing with the Great North Run 2019. For more details of this Ten for TOFS challenge, and why I am doing it, please see my Fundraising page - many thanks."


See Nikki's Fundraising page



"This year will be my 4th Great North Run. I always love doing it for charities but this year it will be a super special run as it will be for the fantastic TOFS charity, which has helped me and my family so much with my little TOFling Gray. 

Gray was diagnosed at day 2 and operated on at day 3. It was such a big shock for us as parents, but I have always said something as a parent comes over you to be super strong for your little one. It sure did with me and my hubby. It has been a rough year with continuous chest infections resulting in admissions on numerous occasions, but TOFS always helped us through it. We are super proud of Gray in how he copes and deals with his challenges.

The TOFS' Facebook group is super helpful and I have met some truly lovely people through it. Having a TOF has been a challenge as parents, but it's a journey we are loving and has definitely made us stronger as a family. 

I am so looking forward to this year's Great North Run as I will be doing it with my Mam and sister. This will be my Mam's first one, she is doing great in training and she is determined to run the whole thing for Gray and all the other TOFlings. My sister is also doing it too so make sure to keep an eye out for me and my super special runners."

See Danielle's Just Giving Page:


"I've been running for about 5 years now though I only did my first 10K last year! TOFS has been a brilliant charity throughout my life and has provided lots of useful information, support and advice to my family so it's an absolute privilege to have been given the chance to run the Great North Run and raise money for TOFS. 

I was born with TOF/OA and Tracheomalacia on Boxing Day in 1996, 6 weeks early. A bit of a Christmas surprise! All my surgery up to moving to adult care was carried out by Mr Edward Kiely and took place in Great Ormond Street Hospital and included a Nissens Fundoplication (aged 13) as well as the early on TOF repair and Aortopexy. I was very lucky as a child with only infrequent visits for pH tests and check ups until I was experiencing acid reflux severe enough to prompt a Nissens. 

Since then I've managed to be diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and rather unfortunately my oesophagus suddenly became paralysed just before my A levels in 2015. Since the Coeliac diagnosis my health has improved drastically and I've not had a chest infection for two years. The oesophageal paralysis is likely permanent and, combined with the surgical valve, presents my most obvious issue to deal with that's come from being born with TOF/OA.

However apart from ruling out a small number of careers (no becoming an astronaut when I require gravity to eat!) TOF has not prevented me from making the most of all the opportunities that come my way! 

I have just graduated from a degree in Nuclear Science and Materials and am currently working for an engineering firm in West Cumbria before starting a masters in Nuclear Decommissioning and Waste Management at the University of Birmingham in October. I am also a keen mountaineer and climber so living up near the Lake District is perfect for the summer. I have thrown myself into the sport over the last three years and have tried all sorts of climbing and learnt to lead sport and traditional routes and spent six weeks alpine mountaineering last summer. I'll be taking on the leadership of the university mountaineering club next year and I'm extremely excited for this challenge. Apart from having long entries in insurance forms people are always extremely surprised when they find I'm not totally healthy! 

I feel extremely lucky that being born with TOF/OA hasn't had too severe an effect on my quality of life. While it definitely isn't always a breeze, I genuinely think that there are a lot of things I'd not have become involved with had I not had the condition. Although I'd never say I was glad about having the bad luck to be born a bit different, I am glad I've managed to deal with it in a way that makes me say yes to every opportunity and it's certainly made me a more determined person.

Training for the Great North Run is currently in progress, though is proving challenging in hilly West Cumbria! I am so excited for the run though also fairly nervous and my fingers are crossed for cool weather!"

View Alex's MyDonate page:


"At 49 years of age and after losing weight (16 stone 9 lb. to 12 stone 7 lb.) I thought it was about time I sorted out my fitness and hit the road running (first time in 20 years).

In the past as a member of HM Forces, I was very fit and ran regularly completed half marathons in Germany and Cyprus, but for the past 20 years I've pretty much let my fitness go to the wall.

However with the inspiration of losing weight I started running again in December 2017, and found that I was enjoying it, mainly because I was running because I wanted to, not because I had to.

After applying for the 2018 Great North Run I was initially at a loss to which charity I wanted to raise money for. But when my wife told me friends of ours had a baby grandchild who was born with TOF, I did a little research and my heart went out to all the babies born with this condition. I wanted to do a little something to raise money to help the TOFS charity as they do so much to help those who suffer from the condition."

View Andrew's fundraising page:


"Our son Ethan, now 10 years old, was born unable to swallow with a condition called Tracheo-oesophageal Fistula and Oesophageal Atresia. He had corrective surgery at 24 hours old and is left with reflux, respiratory problems and is at risk of choking on food, drink, his own saliva and exertion.

The early years were the hardest. The TOF forum back in the day and the other TOF parents' tips and guides were our lifeline. Lately, we have been teaching Ethan to manage his own condition and understand his medicines and his limitations (we now know he is not made to be upside down!!)

To celebrate Ethan’s first decade and my fortieth year I applied to run one of the largest and most iconic half marathons for TOFS, The Great North Run, 9th September 2018, and I was chosen!!

This will be my 3rd half marathon in the 2 years I have been running and I am looking forward to the challenge that includes a large hill!

My training has commenced (I even took and used my trainers on holiday in Spain!) so I would be really grateful if you would support me to raise lots of money for this small charity that continues to be run by TOF Adults, TOF Parents and Grandparents, so they can continue to support families of current and future TOF babies. 1 TOF baby is born in approximately every 3,500."


View Amy's mydonate page:


This year will be my first Great North Run. I always loved swimming and running but this year will be a super special run as it will be for my little girl Myrsini and the fantastic TOFS charity.

My daughter was diagnosed with TOF/VACTERL association at birth. Since 2014 she has undergone over 8 major surgeries and countless procedures. I am very proud of Myrsini in how she copes with daily challenges and has always been an inspiration to me.

TOFS Charity has helped us so much in every aspect of this journey and we are very grateful for their support. Looking forward to my first Great North Run!

See Sapfo's MyDonate Page:

Pete and Adam Sowerby


"This September I will be attempting the Great North Run for the 4th time to raise money for TOFs, I have done it a couple of times before but I was 10 years younger and 3 stone lighter!

On the 2nd of June 2017 we had premature twins by emergency C Section at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Twin 1 Isabella fed straight away and well, but when we came to feed Twin 2 Adam, he very quickly turned blue and started choking. This was diagnosed by the neonatal paediatrician as a TOF and Adam was taken from us and rushed down the M6 to St Mary’s specialist Neonatal unit in Manchester. The team at Manchester further then diagnosed his problem as a TOF/OA.

The surgical team in Manchester worked miracles and managed to reconnect them together (just). They had to paralyse him for a further 48 hours to prevent him moving and tearing the repair. However it had torn slightly and he was under further observations and interventions that kept him alive while his body tried to heal the tear. Meaning all his breathing and feeding was being done by machines / specialist nursing staff.

During all this time I was alone in Manchester NICU as my wife was stuck in Lancaster due to life threatening complications, so alone and completely confused as what this TOF thing all the staff were talking about. Fortunately a nurse directed me to the TOFS website and its closed Facebook Group, and told me to contact TOFS. Those first few scary confusing days were made all the more bearable by both the TOFS Local Conatct (TLC) Kay Leech and the vast amount of parents on the Facebook Group who always knew what to say."

See Pete's mydonate page:


"My name is Adam Tomlinson and I was born in April 1993 with TOF/OA. I was born in the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, Cumbria and transferred to the RVI in Newcastle upon Tyne some 90 miles away from home. This must have been hard for my parents, as I have two older sisters who were 3 and 6 years old at the time.

My surgery to reconnect my oesophagus was carried out when I was just 18 hours old, it was touch and go as to whether they would be able to join my oesophagus but eventually it was joined under stress. This means that I had to be sedated and put on life support so as to prevent the oesophagus splitting at the join if I was to cough or move around. Luckily everything healed well with no leaks, but this has left me with a narrowing and dysphagia, so in my first year of life I had 12 dilations, followed by a fundoplication the week after my first birthday to help with my severe reflux. Obviously I have no recollection of any of this so I am relying on my parents for their memories.

Throughout my life I have had trouble with food 'sticking' but have never let this hold me back.Over the years I have had so many dilations that we have lost count, each one meaning the 90 mile trip to Newcastle. I was always smaller than my peers through school but had a growth spurt around 17 years old and now stand 6 feet 1" tall. I went to UCLAN in Preston to study mathematics gaining my degree in 2014. I enjoy watching Rugby League and try to keep fit in the gym also cycling and running when my work shift pattern allows. I still suffer from reflux and swallowing problems but do enjoy all kinds of food.

It is because of the comfort and support that TOFs offered my parents in my early years that I have decided to fundraise for TOFs in the GNR."

See Adam's fundraising page

© Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula Support
TOFS is a Registered Charity in England and Wales (327735) and a Private Company Limited By Guarantee without Share Capital, registered in England and Wales (2202260).
Registered address: TOFS, St. George’s Centre, 91 Victoria Road, Netherfield, Nottingham NG4 2NN.
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