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‘What he went through spurred me on’: stud owner’s wheelchair marathon in memory of Rory Gilsenan

A stud owner paralysed from a riding accident as a teenager has completed 25 laps of Milton Keynes’ shopping centre in a wheelchair marathon in memory of the late Rory Gilsenan.

Sharon Mynard, 53, from Quainton pushed herself the 26.2 miles in aid of Brain Tumour Research on Sunday (6 September) and has raised more than £8,500.

She dedicated the marathon to her close friend Rory, who died in April aged 50 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2018.

“My marathon went better than I anticipated, probably helped by all the training I did around my yard which stood me in good stead when I was doing laps outside Centre MK, where the ground is very uneven,” said Sharon, adding she is hoping to reach £10,000.

“I completed 13 laps inside before having to move outside when the centre became busy with shoppers and then went inside again just for the last two laps.

“I put plenty of plasters on my hands where I normally get blisters which was also a good move.

“It was absolutely tragic that such a lovely man, with such a gift for getting along with people, should be struck down with brain cancer. Although Rory battled with downright dogged determination, even winning at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead while undergoing treatment, he passed away 18 months after diagnosis with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).”

She added that Rory did “so many wonderful things”.

“He rode my horses and even took my Dexter’s Puzzle to the Horse of the Year Show a couple of times,” said Sharon.

“The thought of what Rory went through spurred me on all the way through my marathon challenge. Despite two craniotomies, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, nothing could save him.

“Rory was the breadwinner of his family and his youngest daughter, Katie, was only 18 years old when he died.

“Even if my efforts spare one family in the future from this tragedy, they won’t have been in vain.”

She added she is “so grateful” to all those who have sponsored her and everyone who helped make the “pushathon” possible.

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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said the charity is very grateful to Sharon for her support and congratulated her on “a herculean effort”.

The charity funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK and lobbies the government and larger cancer charities to invest more in brain tumour research, to speed up new treatments and ultimately to find a cure.

It is calling for a national annual spend of £35m to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers, such as breast cancer and leukaemia, and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs to treat tumours.

To donate to Sharon’s fundraising, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sharon-mynard

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