Teenager runs marathon in memory of brother

A Bexhill teenager will run the Dublin marathon in memory of the brother she lost to asthma.

Tom Buck was just 15 when he died suddenly of this condition which affects one in ten children in the UK and one in 12 adults.

Tom was a pupil at St Richard's College and a remarkable youngster '“ an older brother who didn't mind his little sister hanging around.

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Now Georgina wants to mark what would have been his 21st birthday on Tuesday September 23 and raise money for Asthma UK by taking part in the marathon on October 27 '“ she will be 18 on October 20, so just old enough to qualify for the event.

She will be there with father Andy, who is an experienced runner, and mum Cathy waiting for them on the finish line for what will be a memorable family moment.

Georgina, who attended St Richard's College and went on to Bexhill College to study health and social care, has never attempted a marathon before so admits to being "a bit nervous".

"But I think I will be alright," she said this week at home in St George's Road.

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"My dad did the New York marathon for Great Ormond Street Hospital and he raised more than 700 '“ and I want to beat that. I won't be able to run faster than him but I want to raise more money."

She has done no distance running so far but has been pounding on the treadmill in the gym to improve her fitness '“ she thinks it is more likely she will carry a bucket on the day to collect money from spectators.

Like Tom, Georgina has had asthma since she was a child, mild enough to be controlled with occasional use of an inhaler.

Tom also had a serious kidney condition and received treatment at Great Ormond Street, but his sudden death was caused by an asthma attack which the family was not aware could happen.

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Andy commented: "Asthma is so common and can usually be controlled so we never thought it could be life-threatening. Not until after he died. Then I looked it up on the internet and it is quite common.

"We didn't realise it was a life-threatening condition. It happened overnight...both Georgina and Tom's mum were away, so it was just Tom and me in the house. I went to bed at 10.30pm and he stayed up on his computer talking to his mates on MSM, with no symptoms at all. The following day he didn't get up, but it was a Saturday so he was having a lie-in, I thought. I went down the town and bought something for breakfast and came back around 10.30 and he still wasn't up. I thought it was getting a bit late...then I just went upstairs with his breakfast to his bedroom and found him dead.

"It was very shocking for all of us."

Georgina remembers Tom as "a good older brother" while Andy said: "The school described him very well. They said when his little sister turned up at St Richard's, Tom was quite good at letting her hang around with him and his mates whereas most brothers are far less keen to be with their younger siblings."

Looking forward to the Dublin event he commented: "I do marathons for my health mainly. But I am looking forward to setting a good time in Dublin and I think it is really nice that Georgina is using it as a memorial for her brother.

"It will be a good way to remember his 21st birthday."

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One person dies on average every six hours from asthma according to Asthma UK, the organisation Georgina will be running for, which needs donations for research and eduction purposes. Anyone who wants to sponsor her can do so by emailing her on [email protected], or write to her via the Bexhill Observer office at 18, Sackville Road.

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