Hitchin’s Gayle shows true friendship with marathon effort for pal Justine

Gayle Harvey is running the Brighton Marathon in April.

Gayle Harvey is running the Brighton Marathon in April. - Credit: Archant

The friend of a woman struck down by an extremely rare brain condition is showing loyalty to her pal by running a marathon to help raise funds and awareness.

Gayle Harvey, from Coopers Yard in Hitchin town centre is set to run the Brighton Marathon next month for her buddy Justine Peters, who also lives in the town.

She signed up for the event on after chum and former hairdresser Justine was struck down by chiari malformations syringomyelia – a downward displacement of the brain through the opening at the base of the skull.

Although she’s had the condition all her life she only became aware of it two years ago – prompting Gayle to commit to a marathon effort in aid of the Ann Conroy Trust that provides support, education and research for people living with it.

The disorder causes swelling in Justine’s brain, forcing it downwards in her skull, requiring major surgery to allow it grow down her neck.

She faces a battle to get her day-to-day activities back on track as she finds simple tasks a struggle.

But Gayle, 39, said: “Justine’s amazing. I’ve seen her cope with this from the beginning and she deserves a medal.

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“By running the Brighton Marathon I’d like to raise awareness of this condition as its current profile is low due to the rarity of the disorder.”

The south coast event is staged a week before the London Marathon – Gayle tried for a place in the bigger event but couldn’t get a slot.

Now she will be lining up for the start of the Brighton run with friend Claire Shrimpton.

In a bid to raise as much money as possible her vest sponsored by Mexican street food company Cantinas Carnitas, operated by Hitchin businessman Matt Bean.

Gayle said: “I’ve been busy doing 12 and 13 mile runs including the Baldock Beast, which was hard work.”

Justine added: “I’m lucky to have such fantastic support. We need to help those who may not be in such a fortunate position, so please help if you can.”

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/Gayle-Harvey3.