Belper stroke survivor gears up for charity run

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A former primary school headteacher from Belper is to mark a milestone in her recovery from a stroke with a sponsored run for charity.

Jo Gotheridge is aiming to complete the Stroke Association’s Resolution Run on Sunday, February 26, at Markeaton Park, Derby.

It will be a significant step in her return to full health after she suffered a stroke in 2013, at the age of 38, since when she has lost four and a half stone and completely changed her life.

Jo said: “As strange as it sounds, my stroke is the best thing to have ever happened to me.

“I didn’t know the cause of my stroke and that led me to make decisions to change my work life balance, lose weight and develop a surprising love for exercise. I’m determined not to go back to how I was.”

Before the stroke, Jo said she was overweight and a workaholic who would not eat between 7am and 7pm most days.

She first notice something was wrong when she felt weakness in one side of her body, but did not suspect a stroke.

As her symptoms worsened, she found she could no longer spell the word ‘and’ or walk up the stairs, and so went to visit her GP.

Jo said: “I believe my GP’s quick actions saved my life. She sent me straight to Royal Derby Hospital and after several tests and scans, I was told I’d had a stroke. I thought my world had ended.”

After three days in hospital, Jo returned home and struggled to get back into the normal patterns of her old life.

She said: “I was even checking my emails when I was in hospital, but I’ve never felt tiredness like it.

“I couldn’t tie my shoelaces, load the dishwasher or even walk 100 yards.”

Eventually, she decided to give up work and concentrate on being a mum to her daughter Emma, now 13, and joined Slimming World.

She said: “I wanted to get my life back. I began to exercise and now I go to the gym four times a week.

“We’ve gone through a lot to get to this point but I’ve changed my life beyond recognition.”

The Stroke Association reports that there are around 152,000 strokes every year in the UK, at least half of which could be prevented by simple lifestyle changes.

Jo and Emma will take on the Resolution Run together to raise vital funds for the charity.

Jo said: “I want to help others affected by stroke to get the support they need.”

Runners’ entry fee is just £15, and everyone taking part will receive a technical running t-shirt and medal.

For information about entering or volunteering at the Resolution Run, visit www.stroke.org.uk/resolution, email resolution@stroke.org.uk or call 0300 3300740.