A south Warwickshire quartet set to make London Marathon history - The Leamington Observer

A south Warwickshire quartet set to make London Marathon history

Leamington Editorial 8th Apr, 2024   0

A QUARTET from south Warwickshire will make London Marathon history when they take to the streets of the capital later this month.

Gareth Rees, along with an NFU Mutual work colleague, his cousin and two former Stratford rugby teammates, will be part of a five-strong team tackling the 26.2-mile race on Sunday April 21.

With more than 45,000 runners getting involved on the day, Gareth, from Warwick, will be part of a first for the event.

The 2024 race is the inaugural year that wheelchairs being pushed by others will officially be allowed – with a limit of just ten participants.

Gareth will be supported by four pushers – Wendy Woodhouse a Wellesbourne resident and colleague from NFU Mutual, former Stratford rugby colleagues Richard Pepperell and Flo Vialan, from Stratford and Alcester respectively, and his cousin Dr Darren Cooper, from Kempsey in Worcestershire.

The 37-year-old is aiming to raise £5,000 for the RFU Injured Players Foundation, the charity that supported him in 2011 following a spinal cord injury he sustained while playing rugby for Stratford Rugby Club.

Gareth was playing for the club’s 1st XV away to Old Halesonians in January 2011 when he took a routine ball around the 30-minute mark, but landed awkwardly and suffered a C4 dislocation. He was paralysed from the neck down, immediately.

He said: “There was nothing malicious in it, it was just the way I fell and I instantly couldn’t feel my arms or legs. I knew something was wrong, but just not how bad.

“I was collected by an air ambulance and flown to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where I was intubated for three weeks and then had a further five weeks in ICU.

“I was then moved to Stoke Mandeville Spinal Hospital in Aylesbury before being discharged in January 2012.”

From the moment Gareth sustained his injury, the RFU Injured Players Foundation were there for him and his family every step of the way.

Gareth continued: “As soon as the RFU Injured Players Foundation heard from the rugby club, they were straight over to assure my parents and offer them and myself all the support they would need.

“They were incredible – from helping with various different funding to the purchase of a house, they have been amazing throughout it all.”

Gareth returned to his job at NFU Mutual, where the entrance was modified to make coming back to work easier, in December 2012 and has since completed a number of adventures including sky diving, skiing and touring New Zealand.

Training has been going well for the team – with Wendy and Darren experienced runners – and come the day Gareth will be using a bespoke running wheelchair built by SA Mogg LTD, who have produced the chair specifically for him.

To donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/page/the-big-marathon-push


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