Belfast Telegraph

ME sufferer vows to do 19 challenges in Northern Ireland friend's memory

Felicity Driver after one of her challenges
Felicity Driver after one of her challenges
Ron Burgess
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A Bristol-based police task co-ordinator who suffers from a debilitating illness is on track to complete 19 fundraising challenges this year in memory of a colleague from Northern Ireland who died of a brain tumour.

Felicity Driver (32), who lives with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), successfully completed the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London on Sunday as part of a bid to raise vital funds and awareness for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

Despite suffering chronic pain and fatigue, the Avon and Somerset Police worker is persevering with her efforts to raise £1,000 and is motivated by the tragic death of her late friend and co-worker Ron Burgess.

"Ron was loved by everybody and was truly the life of the party," Ms Driver said.

"Though he continued to work while living with his tumour, it was shocking to see how quickly he declined towards the end."

The Ballygowan native moved to Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire and worked in intelligence within the Avon and Somerset Police Force until he passed away in December 2017 at the age of 48, eight years after receiving the life shattering diagnosis.

"We were devastated when Ron died," Ms Driver said.

A plaque has already been erected at Emerson Green Police Station in Bristol in his honour.

His former colleague, who has already ran the Brighton Marathon, Vitality Big Half and London Landmarks Half Marathon and is en-route to complete 19 events in 2019, hopes to keep her co-worker's memory alive by continuing to go the extra mile.

"My ME hugely impacts my fundraising, as it does my day-to-day life," Ms Driver said.

"I cannot predict when I will be struck with horrendous fatigue, which is so debilitating I cannot get out of bed, and this means I cannot train as much as I would hope.

"Despite the difficult days, I'm determined to push through the pain and do all I can to raise funds and remember Ron."

On Saturday, Ms Driver joined dozens of members of the public to take part in a sponsored walk.

She has also completed the inaugural seven-mile Bristol Walk of Hope, hosted cake sales, donated 7cm of her own hair and participated in a 10km open water swim - and she has no intention of slowing down.

"I've asked my colleagues to take part in the charity's annual Wear A Hat Day campaign in March and we're looking forward to fundraising for years to come," she added.

Mel Tiley, community fundraising manager at Brain Tumour Research, expressed gratitude for Ms Driver's efforts to combat a terrible disease.

"Ron's story reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate," she said. "They can affect anyone at any age."

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