A couple who ran the London Marathon in memory of their daughter who died less than 10 months ago said the whole event had been about “kindness” for them.
Claire Nash and her husband Wayne Flanagan, both 34, crossed the finish line together dressed in peacock-themed outfits as this had been a nickname and middle name for their daughter Jade who only lived for 10 days.
The couple of Lewisham, south-east London, were both Covid positive when Jade was born in January some six weeks before her due date.
They said training for and running the marathon has been a “powerful” and “very emotional” event with a mix of feelings that has helped them to grieve and support the charities who looked after Jade – the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, the Evelina Children’s Hospital and Demelza Hospice Care for Children.
Mr Flanagan said that “without a doubt the whole day has been about kindness”, adding: “Everyone that we turned to, from the runners who were next to us or the people on the street cheering us on and shouting ‘peacock’.
“They were shouting ‘do it for baby Jade’ or her name.
“We were literally in tears for parts of it – and tears and running don’t really go well together.”
He added that “we knew it was going to hurt” somewhere on an emotional level but it has also been a chance to talk and remember their daughter.
Jade Nash’s heart stopped when she was born on January 9 at University Hospital Lewisham and, although staff managed to revive her, she died on January 19 at Demelza hospice, in nearby Eltham.
Named after the midwife who delivered her, Jade also spent eight days at Evelina London Children’s Hospital.
The couple who have a son Elijah, five, are hugely grateful to the medics and carers who looked after the whole family as Jade died.
Ms Nash said: “Today was about Jade and Elijah and we also wanted to let people know that these people are incredible humans and in our darkest hour they were there for us. We only ever felt love, support and kindness from them.
“They were obviously dealing with a difficult time themselves but it did not come across once.
“They were always putting or needs and Jade’s first. I hope we got that (gratitude) across today.”
She added that the crowd along the route “pretty much constantly cheered us on and were phenomenal – I have never experienced anything like it”.
Mr Flanagan said he felt “all over the place” on the eve of the marathon but said that as soon as he started running he found “his happy place”.
He added: “I know that all of this is not over for us and there will be stuff for us to do in the future but this has been such a huge and momentous focus for us over such a prolonged period that we just want to stay in the moment and enjoy what we have experienced.
“The volunteers, the strangers, our friends being out on the route for us, our family plus the kindness of the London Marathon (organisers) themselves – over all this time there has been such small gestures from all of them which has made a huge difference to how we are feeling now.
“The whole thing has been amazing and my brain is on overload at the minute and it may take a while to come down.”
Some of the landmarks along the 26.2 mile London Marathon route where they got emotional included Tower Bridge because it is where they drove back home from the Evelina hospital.
Mr Flanagan said exercise has helped him over the past difficult months and he will “do whatever I can to keep running.”
He has previously run the London, Brighton and Berlin marathons but this was Ms Nash’s first at the distance.
They think they finished in about 6 hours and 30 minutes but forgot to check because of the “adrenaline rush” of it all, according to Ms Nash.
– To donate to fundraising in Jade’s memory visit:
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe