Tom to tackle half marathon in memory of son Oliver
Published on: 01 Sep 2017
A DAD from Emersons Green is preparing to tackle the Great Bristol Half Marathon in memory of his son Oliver, a talented sportsman who died last year at the age of 18.
Tom McGowan will join forces with daughter Heather for the 13.1-mile run to raise money for the charity Epilepsy Action.
Oliver developed cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism after suffering from E. coli meningitis when he was a baby.
But his disability did not stop him from living life to the full and achieving sporting success. Oliver played football for Cerebral Palsy England Development Squad and was the third fastest 200m runner in the UK in the Under 16s T37 Paralympic Team.
He died last November at Southmead Hospital of complications after being admitted following an epileptic fit, just as he had taken up a place at the National Star College in Stroud.
Now his dad Tom, aged 49, and sister Heather, 22, a languages student at Bristol University, are going to fulfil one of Oliver’s long held ambitions to run the Great Bristol Half Marathon on September 17.
Tom and Heather are now in full training for the run and have included the weekly Pomphrey Hill Park Run as part of their preparation.
The pair are being supported by staff at Longwell Green Active Leisure Centre where Oliver was a popular member and where Tom still regularly trains.
Tom, an RAF squadron leader based at MoD Abbeywood, Bristol, said: “Oliver was an inspiration, full of love and adored by everyone who knew him. He suffered from E. coli meningitis as a baby which left him with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism, yet he never asked “why me?”
"Despite the many challenges he faced in his short life, he rose to each and every one with great enthusiasm and courage, filling every room with the sound of his laughter and love.
“He had aspired to one day complete the Great Bristol Half Marathon himself. He will not get to do this so we are completing this for him. At the same time we’ll raise awareness of epilepsy and epilepsy healthcare services so that people with epilepsy have the support they need to manage their condition."
Tom and Heather have already smashed their fundraising target of £1,000 and say anything else they raise will be a bonus.
Erica Cross, marketing manager at Circadian Trust, the charity that runs Longwell Green Active Leisure, said: “Oliver was well known to us and we actively supported his training. As his dad says, he really was inspirational and so we’re supporting Tom and Heather in their goal to fulfil Oliver’s ambition. We’ll be cheering them on and look forward to them bringing back their medals to show us."
You can sponsor Tom and Heather by visiting Just Giving and searching for Thomas McGowan Great Bristol Half Marathon 2017.