Heathfield man’s marathon dream becomes reality

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Hospital staff from Heathfield have helped make a dream come true for one of their residents who wanted to take part in a half marathon.

Darren Williams, 41, who has Huntington’s disease, a progressive neurological condition and uses a wheelchair, has been called ‘an inspiration’ after completing the Hastings half marathon.

With the support of employees from The Priory Grange, Heathfield, he completed the course in four hours and raised £800 for the charity MIND.

Race organisers have been so impressed by Darren’s achievements they recently presented him with a one-off achievement award at a special ceremony,

Darren’s desire to take part in a race emerged after Ricky Holder, an occupational therapy assistant at The Priory Grange, ran the Brighton Marathon.

Darren went along to support Ricky and a few days later revealed he would have loved to have done a marathon before he became ill.

As soon as staff heard this they pulled out all the stops to help make his dream come true – arranging for him compete in the 2013 Hastings half marathon.

A team of ten Priory staff volunteered to assist Darren on the day with some pushing his wheelchair and others running alongside him.

Vanessa Wright, The Priory Grange registered manager, said: “We are all very proud of what Darren and the team have achieved.

“He is an inspiration and, despite his illness, maintains a real zest for life including being passionate about Liverpool Football Club and loves to share a joke with staff and visitors.

“We focus on providing varied activities in a supportive living environment and this includes arranging excursions and events that match our residents’ interests and hobbies.

“We aim to provide quality and innovative services and staff helping Darren achieve one of his dreams reflects this ethos.”

Darren, who has lived at The Priory Grange since 2010, said: ““The day was great and I loved it.”

He has continued to be very happy since the event and has on more than one occasion expressed his gratitude to all of the staff who helped him.

Darren’s condition is progressive and as well as using a wheelchair, he has an electronic speech aid to help him communicate.

The Priory Grange, Heathfield, provides accommodation for up to 28 residents, who have physical and mental health needs, providing therapeutic and recreational activities.