Entries for the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon are now open.

A father will join his daughter on a half marathon challenge this autumn in memory of his son who tragically passed away in November.

Oliver McGowan, from Emerson’s Green in Bristol, was just 18-years-old when he lost his life after being admitted to Southmead Hospital after suffering from an epileptic seizure.

Oliver suffered survived two bouts of E.coli meningitis as a baby which left him with epilepsy. 

He left behind his father Tom, mother Paula, brother Adam and sister Heather.

Oliver attended National Star College in Stroud and was a talented sportsman with a bright future ahead of him. 

He was a registered young para-athlete and held the record for the third fastest U16 at 200m in the country and also played football for the Cerebral Palsy England Centre of Excellence. 

When thinking of ways to honour Oliver’s memory, his sister Heather reminded Tom that Oliver had always wanted to run the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon.

They both decided to enter the event, which takes place on Sunday 17 September, as a tribute to Oliver and as a way of raising awareness about different forms and the effects of Epilepsy.

Tom, 49, said: “Oliver was an inspiration to all who met him and he has really made me want to be a better person in life. 

“He suffered from E.coli meningitis when he was just four weeks old, which left him with mild autism, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. 

“He never once complained or asked ‘why me’ he just got on with making the most of life.

“His attitude touched a lot of people, from his friends and family through to his teachers and lecturers.

“Despite the challenges he faced in his short life up to his very sudden death, he rose to each and every one with enthusiasm and courage. 

“Oliver never failed to fill every room with sound and laughter.

“He was really fond of athletics and had a really bright future ahead of him. He had aspirations to do the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon and so we thought it was fitting to do it for Oliver this year as he no longer can.

“Heather thought of the idea and entered me, so I had no choice but to commit to it. I have ran before so I am looking forward to the prospect of taking on another half marathon challenge.”

Tom and Heather will join over 10,000 others for the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon on a scenic route that makes the most of the city’s picturesque backdrop. 

The city centre run has become a long-held tradition in the sporting calendar, starting and finishing in Bristol’s historic harbour side. 

The sea-level route takes runners along the stunning Avon Gorge, passing under the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge twice before returning to the city centre.

They will be raising money for Epilepsy Action, a charity that commits to helping people with Epilepsy have a better life and to have the support they need to manage the condition. 

It is their aim that more people become aware of the different cases of Epilepsy so when a severe seizure occurs, more are able to have a different outcome than Oliver. 

Tom, who works as an engineer in the Royal Air Force, added: “ By taking part in the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon, we want to be able to create wider awareness and understanding of epilepsy so that people who live with the condition are treated with fairness and respect. 

“People are quick to complain and moan about their life situation but this was never the case with Oliver and he has inspired me to be a better person.”

Support Tom and Heather’s fundraising page here.

Entries for the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon are now open.