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News > Alumni News > Support Cath as she runs the 2022 London Marathon

Support Cath as she runs the 2022 London Marathon

Cath Black (née Bright) (1989-97) is running the London Marathon for her best friend, and former Head Girl, Jo Williams, raising funds for Stroke Association.
15 Apr 2022
Alumni News


1990's OOs

CLICK HERE to head over to Cath's JustGiving page to make a donation now.

Here is Cath's story...


Let me introduce you to the lovely Jo! We became friends aged 12 at boarding school and then firm friends whilst conscientiously revising for our GCSEs in the girls boarding house. She was a tall, beautiful and blonde. Clever, good at sport and funny. She was my first clubbing buddy at the local dodgy night-club and just all round amazing friend and still is. She and our other 3 close school friends are still friends to this day, chatting daily in our "Middle Aged Ladies" Whatsapp group (NB we MUST change the name to something more hip and cool!) Jo always knew what she wanted career wise and always remained focused, getting a law degree and then a placement at a prestigious law firm in Manchester. She was a litigator not to be messed with! She married Johnny who she met at school and later they had their first child Edward. 

Then, 4 years ago my lovely Jo, then aged 38 and nearly full term with baby number 2 sent me a Whatsapp picture of her huge pregnancy bump and said that she was looking forward to being able to see her feet again, "I look like Mr Greedy from the Mr Men," she said.  

It was a couple of days later that we heard the news, Jo had given birth to baby Anna, but something had gone wrong. Something had happened to Jo. She had suffered a huge stroke. She's in intensive care in a medically induced coma. "Err huh what? A stroke? No she hasn't she's only 38 surely that's not possible? I'm confused, is she going to be ok? What happens now?!"

Baby Anna was born healthy and perfect but Jo had suffered from a massive cerebellum stroke. She was taken to the Walton Centre at the main hospital in Aintree, Liverpool. 

I will never forget me and friend Becky visiting. I didn't recognise her until Becky pointed to her in her hospital bed. There were tubes galore and an awful tracheostomy in her throat. This was a number of weeks later and she was by now out of her coma and aware of surroundings and people there with her. All we could do was hold her hand and remind her how amazing she was and of all the daft things we had done together over the years. All she could do was lie there helpless, unable to move or talk. She had tears in her eyes and so did we. It was truly heart breaking to see our Jo in this way.

For those of you that don't know and despite hearing about them, a stroke is in essence:

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, killing brain cells. Damage to the brain can affect how the body works. It can also change how you think and feel. The effects of a stroke depend on where it takes place in the brain, and how big the damaged area is. Which occurs when a blood vessel is blocked or bleeding, causing complete interruption to a portion of the cerebellum (top part of brain stem where spinal cord meets the brain). The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that controls movement and maintains balance. It’s located at the back of your brain, at the bottom. It has a symmetric left and right side. Each side controls coordination and movement for the corresponding side of your body.

Jo remained in intensive care for a number of weeks, and eventually moved over to the nearby Sid Watkins building - a specialist rehabilitation centre.

No one I'm sure could ever imagine going into hospital to have a baby and then suffering something so horrific that when you leave you cannot walk or talk, let alone look after your new baby. Jo remained in hospital for a year. I am happy to say that her family were so strong and supportive and able to make many changes to their daily lifestyle in order to support Jo and her rehabilitation. Walking is a work in progress as is talking. She is, of course, still the Jo we love and she is now able to text and email and still make us laugh. I miss giving her a call and having a good chat but know this will be something we can do in the future. 

Jo has kindly given me some pics which you can see on my media. Jo, me and your middle aged ladies are very proud of you. 

Stay determined x 

I know finances are a struggle but if you can donate, you will be supporting an amazing cause and if you know anyone who has experienced a stroke, all is not lost and the support is out there.  The Stroke Association are the UK's leading stroke charity, delivering amazing, life-changing support to over 70,000 stroke survivors and their families each year. Without people raising funds for the Stroke Association they could not provide the support and research that they do. Your donations are so important to rebuilding lives after stroke. Where your support goes:- £80 could allow a a stroke survivor to attend a six week communication computer course- £199 could pay for one hour of Helpline activity- £310 could pay for the initial training and expenses of a befriending volunteer- £1,685 could pay for a fitness coach to provide stroke specific exercise rehabilitation- £40,000 funds a Lectureship Award for stroke doctor, nurse, therapist or scientist for a year- £450,000 fully funds a Priority Programme Award in haemorrhagic stroke, vascular dementia and stroke, or the psychological and cognitive impact of stroke, which would run over the course of 5 years.

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