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Mum who lost her son to a brain tumour runs half marathon for the first time since his death to help other families

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A mum who lost her son in the space of just seven months to a brain tumour is now running a half marathon for the first time since his death to help other families.

Debs Mitchell, 54, last ran a half marathon in 2010, when her eight-year-old son Tom met her at the finish line to give her a big hug, before saying he felt unwell.

Just two weeks later, Tom was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He sadly died in November 2010 at the age of nine.

Now Debs is bravely putting on her running shoes again to run a half marathon for the first time since his death. But this time she will be running for Tom’s Trust – the charity she set up in Tom’s name to help other children facing brain tumours.

Debs will run the Cambridge Half Marathon on 17 October, and hopes to raise as much as possible as part of a team of 100 runners, which will fund psychological support for children with brain tumours as well as their families. She aims to complete the 13.1 miles in 2.5 hours.


The group are together aiming to raise £40,000 – enough to support every one of the 40 children expected to be diagnosed with a brain tumour this year in the East of England. These funds will provide vital psychological support to these children and their families from the point of diagnosis.

Debs, who lives in Cambridge and Saffron Walden, said: “In early March 2010 I ran the Silverstone Cambridge Half Marathon with a girlfriend to raise money for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), as our eldest daughter Maddy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 2. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed the run and going over the finish line felt like a complete sense of achievement. 

Debs running at Silverstone

Debs running her last half marathon at Silverstone

“My parents and family were there to watch and afterwards all three of my children came up to me a gave me a hug, but it felt a bit odd as Tom just wasn’t himself and seemed unusually tired. I remember very clearly that he hugged me from behind and put his arms around my middle and his head on my back. I asked him if he was OK. Just two weeks later he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.”

She added: “Losing Tom and starting Tom’s Trust have been tough. Trying to achieve and be positive through adversity is not easy, and the last ten years has been full of highs and lows. Tom’s Trust is now going from strength to strength and I have met and continue to meet some of the most positive and kind people you could ever hope to spend your time with and I am ridiculously proud of the legacy that is Tom’s.

“It’s impossible to believe that I’ve spent just over ten years without Tom, but incredible to see the children and families that we are supporting in Tom’s name. It makes me feel so proud of the positive changes that are essential to these families.

“I just knew that I had to be a part of this incredible event. I don’t want to run another half marathon, my knees hurt too much! But I knew that I had to join the team that are making so much positive change on our tenth anniversary; to put myself through it will be nothing compared to the treatments that Tom endured for seven months, and being part of a team that is working so hard to raise these vital funds and to support more families and children is a great privilege.”Debs and Tom on the beachTom’s Trust has a team of 100 runners taking part in the Cambridge Half Marathon, under the campaign called ‘RUN FOR A YEAR’. The team are hoping to run the 13.1 miles to raise £40,000 to fund care for all 40 estimated children who will sadly be diagnosed with a brain tumour in the East of England over the next year. £1,000 will fund support from a clinical psychologist to a child and their family for a whole year.

You can donate to the whole team by going to www.justgiving.com/campaign/runforayear or donate to Debs’ individual page by going to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/strava-pagerunningfortom

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