East Lancashire Hospice

Sole Survivor

A man who took up running to cope with his wife’s death is delighted to now be raising money for East Lancashire Hospice.

Michael Lilley lost his wife Elizabeth 18 months ago to Carcinoid tumours – a slow growing cancer. During the latter stages of her 10 year illness, Michael took up running with Blackburn Road Runners after attending a Couch to 5k programme.

The dad-of-two, from Cherry Tree in Blackburn, said: “Running has become part of who I am. It was my way of escaping and de-stressing. The running helped with the stress and pressure of being the primary carer for my wife. It was my outlet.

“We had just celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary when she died. She didn’t ‘get’ running at first, but she was very supportive because she knew that it was helping me cope.”

Elizabeth died shortly before his first marathon in Chester in October 2016. Her funeral was held just six days before the event and Michael admits it was an emotional day.

“There were a lot of tears when I crossed the finish line. It was a defining moment in my life of what all the running had become. I could never have anticipated this five years ago.

“I found a love for running that I didn’t expect. It’s not about racing against anyone else, it’s a collective enjoyment for running. It’s more of a social club that runs. It has become a big part of me and has made a world of difference.”

Michael said Elizabeth, who was just 42 when she died, had received care at East Lancashire Hospice during her illness.

“Liz spent a short time at the hospice, so I know first-hand what the hospice has to offer for families.”

Last year Michael took up the post of Charity Coordinator at the running club and members have voted to support East Lancashire Hospice and the Alzheimer’s Society as their designated charities for 2018.

“I was pleased when the hospice was drawn as one of the club’s charities of the year. Quite a few members have relatives that have been cared for there.”

Michael, who works as a quality manager for BAE Systems at Samlesbury, said the club has grown phenomenally in the last few years, with membership increasing from around 80 four years ago to 300.

“It’s the first time we have made a conscious effort to raise money for charity through the club. We have plenty of fundraising events planned and hope to raise a lot of money for the two charities.”

Lots of members have also signed up to this year’s Bubble Rush event on Sunday 6 May at Pleckgate High School in Blackburn.

Michael added: “It made me realise how short life is and that you just have to grab every moment.”


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