A MUSICIAN will take on her third Great North Run to raise money for a charity in memory of her mother.
Jen Stevens is the lead singer of Jen Stevens and the Hiccups, a North-East-based band, and the 29-year-old will take part in the world's biggest half-marathon on September 11, raising money for Sue Ryder, who cared for her mum Anne, when she was diagnosed with stomach cancer which she died from in 2012.
Anne was looked after at Sue Ryder's Leckenham Court Hospice, and Jen has raised funds for the charity since then.
“My Mum was one of the most vibrant, caring, interesting people you could have known,” said Jen. “If you were lucky enough to meet her, you'll know what I mean. The staff at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice seemed to understand that, and were so good to us all in Mum's last weeks, and we want to give them something back.”
The Great North Run is something of a family affair for Jen, from South Shields where the 13.1-mile event finishes.
“My dad did the GNR seven times in a row when I was younger, and I used to go and watch him every year,” said Jen. “Standing at the start with him and feeling the buzz of anticipation in the crowd, and then meeting him at the finish feeling so proud.
“I remember wearing his medal on the bus home one year, staring at it in amazement, and thinking 'I want one. I want to be just like Dad. I'm going to do this too.”
The Great North Run sees 57,000 registered entrants each year and Jen is looking forward to taking her place in one of the most iconic running events in the world.
She added: “It's all about the atmosphere. From the journey up to Newcastle surrounded by other runners, all of us with the same nervous, excited sense of anticipation, to the laughing and chatting with strangers at the start, to the wonderful support from spectators along the route, and the amazing feeling at the finish.
“The atmosphere really is second to none. I'll also be looking forward to putting on my flip flops and having a beer with friends on the coast in South Shields afterwards!
“Running is an amazing brain-tamer. I'm not saying it's a magic cure for all that ails you, but getting out of the house and having some time to myself when I get a chance, putting my favourite upbeat tunes on full blast, and mulling over my problems whilst I run, is guaranteed to pick me up.”
Jen, whose band have supported Scouting For Girls, has turned to her music in order to raise more funds for the charity, and in March 2013 she organised the first Mama Hiccup Music Festival, an all-day music event in her memory held in South Shields. They raised over £3,000 on the night and since then have gone on to raise an additional £1,800.
“I can't describe how much I miss her,” added Jen. “However, since she left us, I've felt stronger some how and I don't suffer fools anymore, I feel like she's right beside me at every single gig, egging me on, telling me off, shouting for more, and instilling the courage and determination in me to keep going.”
You can donate to Jen's fundraising campaign here
RUN WITH THE WORLD AT THE GREAT NORTH RUN
We want the 2016 Great North Run to be the first running event to boast a participant from every country in the world – and we need you to help us achieve it.
After becoming the first running event of its kind to welcome our millionth finisher over the finish line in 2014, we are now aiming for another first – to recruit at least one runner born in every member state of the United Nations – a total of 193 countries – to take part in the iconic event from Newcastle to South Shields, in September.
Do you know an Andorran in Acton? A postman from Palau? A teacher from Togo? Or is there a Madagascan residing in Manchester?
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