Mum And Friends Run Great North Run In Memory Of Jess

Great Comeback 1

The Simplyhealth Great North Run is shown live on BBC One from 9.30-13.30 on Sunday 8 September. For more information ahead of the event visit: Greatrun.org/North

The mum of a young woman who tragically died a day before she turned 27 will take part in the Simplyhealth Great North Run with a team of her daughter's work colleagues on what would have been her 28th birthday.

Jessica McEnroe, from Cramlington, had her life cut short when she died of sepsis last year on 8 September.

Jess suffered from a rare illness called Mixed Connective Tissue Disease that meant her immune system slowly attacked her body.

Unexpectedly, during a pre-birthday meal with her family, she was taken into hospital and died of sepsis 12 hours later.

Her mum Michelle Thompson was on holiday in Turkey at the time and faced the agonising flight home to her daughter. Despite efforts to save Jess, Michelle returned to the UK to find out she had passed away.

Following Jess' untimely death, Michelle decided she wanted to raise awareness about sepsis and the devastating speed of the impact it can have.

In November, she signed up for the Simplyhealth Great North Run to raise money for the UK Sepsis Trust. Over the last year, Michelle has found that running has helped her manage her grief and give her a focus.

Michelle will join a team of 17 of Jess' colleagues from Drummond Central, a marketing, creative and digital agency in Newcastle, where she worked as an account manager.

The team called itself Team Unpredictable Sunshine, named after the blog that Jess was planning to start to help others cope with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.

They aim to raise as much money as they possibly can by running the world's biggest half marathon on Sunday 9 September, on the weekend of the anniversary of Jess' death and on the day of her 28th birthday.

Michelle, 54, said: “The speed of how sepsis shut her body down was terrifying. Having just celebrated a pre-birthday meal, Jessica had returned home and later that evening she said she wasn't feeling well.

“She was in the care of the Freeman Hospital because of the condition she suffered from and so she went into hospital in Cramlington when she began to feel unwell but died 12 hours later, despite the efforts made by everyone to save her.

“It was a huge shock to all of us and I don't think losing Jess has sunk in, even one year later. We were abroad and desperately tried to fly home but by the time we arrived, she had already gone.

“You never expect to see your daughter in that way on her 28th birthday. She was a much-loved daughter, girlfriend, younger sister and was very popular with all of her friends. It's hard to explain how much you can take for granted in life.

“Following Jess' passing I felt like I wanted to do something to tell people about the devastating impact of sepsis as it is something that happened so quickly and I didn't realise how many people it affects until I read about it.

“With the Simplyhealth Great North Run taking place on Jess' birthday, my niece suggested I should run the event for sepsis awareness. I agreed but was adamant I would walk the entire way.

“Then one day, I decided to do a short run and felt a huge sense of achievement. I joined a local running group in the New Year and they've been my support ever since. Running has really helped to give me a focus and a goal after losing her.”

Michelle has personally raised over £1,000 for the UK Sepsis Trust, with Jess' colleagues pledging to raise a huge £50,00 through various fundraising activities.

The team of runners from Drummond Central have also set up a running club to train as a team after work hours. Many of the group had never run before and have set themselves the ultimate challenge by taking on the iconic 13.1 miles for their friend and colleague.

Alex Evans, account director at Drummond Central, said: ‘Nothing can prepare you for such a truly awful tragedy, but testament to our culture was how we pulled together and put our heart and soul into getting through a difficult time as a team.

“Jess was woven into the fabric of Drummond Central. We are still completely bereft without her. “We want to do something positive in honour of such a brave young woman. Because she died on the weekend of the event last year, it felt like a fitting tribute to take up the challenge of this half-marathon.

“If Jess could go through life without ever complaining, we can surely do this.”

The Simplyhealth Great North Run features 57,000 participants who make the famous journey from Newcastle to South Shields every year, whatever their pace or motivation.

To support Michelle and the team's fundraising, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mitch-sunflower and https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/for-our-jess

The Simplyhealth Great North Run is shown live on BBC One from 9.30-13.30 on Sunday 8 September. For more information ahead of the event visit: Greatrun.org/North