After raising more than £7,000 for Sue Ryder with her inspirational ‘marathon’ challenge this summer, Bel Cornwell is now determined to reach even greater heights and help to support Sue Ryder even further by taking on a new '100 mile challenge' with her family.
No ordinary challenge
Bel, from Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, was diagnosed with debilitating Motor Neurone Disease nearly six years ago and has since lost the ability to walk and talk, so her ‘marathon’ of 11 walks of 4km in her powered wheelchair was no ordinary challenge.
In addition to raising thousands of pounds for Sue Ryder, Bel and her family found there were many other benefits to the walks and are now embarking on a ‘100-mile challenge’ hoping to clock up another 100 miles.
“The marathon challenge had a significantly positive influence on my mental and physical well-being and I realised how important it is to maintain that”
“Living with MND has stripped me of so many things, like no longer being able to work, and the marathon challenge gave me a definite sense of purpose, which I realised I was missing when it was over,’ Bel said. ‘It also had a significantly positive influence on my mental and physical well-being and I realised how important it is to maintain that, for as long as I can.”
Before she was diagnosed with MND, Bel, who worked as a teaching assistant at Cheltenham College, was fit and active. Supported by her children Letty and Joby, she plans to complete her wheelchair walks in and around the Cotswolds, taking in woodlands and arboretums that the family enjoy.
An active family
Letty said: “It has been extremely difficult to watch our Mum go through this devastating illness over the last six years and be stripped of so many capabilities we all take for granted. We have always been an active family, watching mum complete half marathons with ease and taking on challenges like the Mud Run as a family team.
“Despite living with, and battling this degenerative condition, Mum has demonstrated an inner strength and resolve to live life to the full. When faced with adversity, she always looks to find positive outcomes wherever possible, and is our finest example to follow in terms of strength and determination – we are so proud of her every day!”
“Despite living with, and battling this degenerative condition, Mum has demonstrated an inner strength and resolve to live life to the full”
Determined to raise awareness of MND, Joby recently completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge. He said: “The effect this illness has had has been heart-breaking and testing for us all, in particular for our Mum who faces challenges every day. I want to do anything I can to contribute towards finding a cure for this devastating condition. Mum has inspired me all the way throughout my life – and always will do.”
Weather permitting, Bel plans to complete four walks each week and hopes to raise vital funds for Sue Ryder in the process. She continues to be supported by the team at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice where she spent a week as an inpatient last year. The family have also been assisted by Leckhampton’s occupational health team, who visited their home to help get all the right equipment in place, and Bel had regular phone contact with the Leckhampton healthcare team throughout the first lockdown.
“We are continuing to raise money for Sue Ryder, who have provided the most exceptional palliative care for Mum and wider family support to us”
Letty said: “We are continuing to raise money for Sue Ryder, who have provided the most exceptional palliative care for Mum and wider family support to us. Their team are always there to support us as Mum’s condition changes, giving expert advice; which is a huge source of comfort to us all.
“My brother and I have been overwhelmed by their professionalism, understanding and compassion over the last few years.”
Support Bel's 100 mile challenge
You can donate to Bel's 100 mile challenge and help Sue Ryder raise crucial funds for our palliative, neurological and bereavement support.