Going that extra mile to help a worthy cause

Simon Wilsdon with his sons Harry and Jack
Simon Wilsdon with his sons Harry and Jack

A dad-of-two is running his debut marathon next month to raise money for a charity that has helped his family deal with an incurable disease.

Simon Wilson, 35, from Warton, is getting ready to run in this year’s Brighton Marathon on April 6 to raise funds for Coeliac UK.

Simon’s eldest son Jack, six, was diagnosed with Coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten, 18 months ago.

When gluten is eaten, damage to the gut lining occurs. There is no cure or medication for the condition; the only treatment is lifelong, strict gluten-free diet.

Without a gluten-free diet, the disease can lead to other conditions such as malnutrition, osteoporosis and small bowel cancer and can cause infertility problems.

Simon said: “I am running the Brighton Marathon because I feel I owe Coeliac UK something, after all the help and support they gave the family during the first 12 months following diagnosis.

“I am delighted to have a place through Coeliac UK this year.

“This is my first marathon and training is going extremely well, other than breaking my toe in November!

“I’ve had to resort to a great deal of cross training during the wet and windy weather, but all seems well.

“I cannot complain at having completed three half marathons in 2014, all under two hours.” One in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease; however, only 10-15 per cent of those with the condition have been diagnosed.

Simon added: “I have raised over £350 to date and hope to break £900 come the big day.”

Following a strict gluten-free diet for life is the only treatment for coeliac disease and those with the condition often find that they need to visit numerous supermarkets in order to complete their weekly shop.

To help raise awareness of the condition, Coeliac UK’s Awareness Week is taking place from 12 – 18 May and will be focusing on the availability of gluten-free food in stores.

Coeliac UK is asking supermarkets to sign up to the ‘Gluten-free Guarantee’ and agree to stock a core range of eight gluten-free items so that those with coeliac disease can more easily access gluten-free foods.

For more information visit www.coeliac.org.uk/gfg