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Andy Stadden, 57 from Angmering, has set himself the unique challenge of running the Brighton Marathon 2020 with his guitar – playing a different song at every mile marker.
Andy is raising money for St Barnabas House, the hospice who cared for his wife, Julie Stadden, who was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumour in September 2018, just seven months after the couple got married.
Andy and Julie first met at Arunners running club in Littlehampton. Julie, a keen long-distance runner herself, had completed the Brighton Marathon in 2017 and 2018, and Andy has taken comfort in the fact that he will be “retracing her steps along the way”.
Andy says, “My beautiful Julie and I were married in February 2018. During the following August she began to have seizures. Despite a brain operation and radiotherapy, Julie’s condition was incurable and sadly she died on 31 May 2019.
“The fantastic St Barnabas House Hospice at Home team made it possible for me to look after Julie at home until the end of her life, so I would like to help them by raising some money so they can continue their amazing work.
“During the last six weeks of Julie’s life she was in a bed downstairs in the front room. The Hospice at Home team called round twice a day to wash and change her, sometimes with extra visits if needed. This much needed routine work was always completed professionally and with compassion. However, the visits meant a lot more than just the care work. It was a chance for Julie to chat, and even have a joke and laugh in those darkest of times. The team became like friends, calling round every day.”
Andy has always enjoyed running in his spare time, however when Julie became ill he says, “she was the priority and I didn’t go running at all for 10 months and put on 16kg during that time”.
With just weeks to go before the marathon, Andy has lost the extra weight and training is going well.
Now, he says, “I just have to practice a lot of songs!”
“I’m not great at guitar and singing, but I do enjoy it.”
“The question I have been asked most is ‘which songs will you play?’. Here’s a few – ‘Shout’ by Tears for Fears, ‘Fulsom Prison Blues’ and ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ by Johnny Cash and Beastie Boys, ‘Fight for your right to party’.
“Julie was always very supportive of my music and we went to quite a few open mics together. She even wanted me to play a few songs at our wedding, so I’m sure she’d have loved to see this!”.
Andy has already smashed his £1,000 target and has currently raised just under £2,000 in Julie’s honour. Visit his JustGiving page to show your support.