GMR 20 Stories – Ella Chadwick

The AJ Bell Great Manchester Run in 2023 will be the 20th staging of the event. In recognition of this incredible milestone, we’re looking back on 20 unforgettable stories from two decades of running in the capital of the North.

15-year-old Ella Chadwick from Rochdale was born with a rare kidney disease and has spent much of her life in hospital. She was eight weeks old when she was diagnosed with congenital nephrotic syndrome and needed six years of dialysis. She underwent 40 operations, before her life was transformed when her grandmother donated one of her kidneys in 2014. Since the transplant Ella has put her efforts into supporting the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and raising funds to help other sick children. She was a Pride of Britain winner in 2018. She has been taking part in the Great Manchester Run since 2015.

Ella’s Mum Karen Hughes explains, “I found about the Great Manchester Run through my friend, her daughter had taken part a couple of times in the Junior run on behalf of Ella and although we had planned to be there to cheer on, we never got there as Ella was always in hospital. Before her transplant, it wouldn’t have ever been physically possible for Ella to take part, but after her transplant it seemed like it could be an option and a great way to celebrate her 1st “kidneyversary”.

“It was such an emotional and exciting day for us. Exactly a year before Ella was in intensive care and now here, she was taking part in the Mini Great Manchester Run.

“Although she couldn’t walk unaided, and used a walking frame, the fact she was doing it was amazing to see. She normally just managed very small distances before legs/back would ache or she would tire, but she was so enjoying the occasion and of course, the Children’s Hospital Mascot, Humphrey Bear, walking alongside her. I’ll always remember her being joined by Paula Radcliffe for the last stretch of the run which was amazing. Even more amazingly not long after this Ella took her first steps unaided which I believe was brought on by taking part in the event.

“It’s been brilliant to be able to give something back. Lots of our donations come from strangers, people we’ve never met, but have been inspired to help after seeing posts shared on social media. At the run people have approached Ella and given her donations for the charity. It’s hard to convey the gratitude we have and how the words thank you just don’t cover what I want to say. Ella wouldn’t have reached a few months old without the care she received and continues to receive. For a long time, Ella spent more time in hospital than at home, she was very poorly and too many times we were told we could be at the end of the line.

“Just saying thank you feels so empty in comparison. I couldn’t just say thank you and leave it at that and of course Ella felt the same way knowing how much they help her and others.

“Ella’s 1st Mini Great Manchester Run is obviously the most special, just because it was the first and was on her kidneyversary, but there’s so many. When she crossed the finish line unaided on her 2nd event, I was definitely the proudest mum ever!! One year I took part in the 10k and got to experience crossing that finish line and Ella being there waiting.

“The past few years Ella has taken part with a team of friends with her, which she loves and it’s a good way to help raise more funds for the charity. Ella is also getting that bit faster and may possibly be able to do it without her frame this year, she’s definitely built up strength in her legs and is much faster, so I may need to get training too!

Be part of a spectacular running celebration in the heart of Manchester on Sunday 21 May 2023, celebrating 20 years of the AJ Bell Great Manchester Run. Sign up here.