The family of Nicholas Ashley are paying tribute to the life of a son, brother, nephew, cousin, and Godson by taking on the Great South Run in October, 2019. This is a blog by Nicholas' mum, Sarah, about the team's successes (and mishaps!).

Nicholas Ashley

Click on the image to see more members of Nicholas' Great South Run team

Blog 3 - June 3

The sponsorship monies for the Encephalitis Society are beginning to build, for those who have completed their JustGiving page. Its a balancing act when asking for sponsorship money, partially it is the remembrance of Nicholas, alongside the feat to be completed (and for some of our runners it certainly is a feat!), coupled with the desire to support an organisation that can provide support and ultimately a greater understanding of this terrible disease that robbed Nicholas of his life, and us of our son.

Julian -  NicholasDad. Continues to dislike running and is now carrying a neck injury, as well as   his dodgy knee and achilles tendon - isnt age a wonderful thing! However, congratulations are also due as Julian recently completed his first ever 10k over a difficult cross country terrain in 1 hour and 1 minute, coming 124th out of 225 racers. He has three further 10K runs planned before October.

Rebecca - NicholasSister. Rebeccas plantar fasciitis is healing slowly and she is hoping to start running again soon.

Bethan - NicholasSister. Disaster has struck after a promising start, with Bethan damaging and tearing her ATL (Anterior Talofibular Ligament) quite significantly in her ankle whilst in the Philippines. Bethan has progressed through a rigid boot, to strapping, and onto physiotherapy, with a few hospital appointments along the way. No running or sports for a minimum of six to eight weeks.

Stephanie - NicholasAunt. Her Achilles tendon is improving with physiotherapy and a personal trainer. Bethans injury has increased Stephanies odds at beating her; for the moment!

Ed - NicholasCousin. Ed, whilst providing support on the Whatsapp group, has kept quiet about his runs - probably spelling disaster for everyone else and their ambitions, as the competitiveness heats up!

Laura - NicholasGodmother. Laura is currently injury free and with no pre-existing injuries; Laura maybe a good bet, or odds on winner, in our non competitive family.

Gary - Family Friend. Gary is contemplating his first run!

We are approaching eleven months since Nicholasdeath and that signifies that its nearly a whole year. Each of us will approach this with different emotions; perhaps relief that all the firstshave come and gone but we managed them; perhaps disbelief that a whole year has passed; or that the impending date seems unreal and that the pain and intensity have not yet diminished. It might be a mixture of all three, and other emotions too. As Nicholasmummy, I am experiencing all of the above emotions, but I am aware that there are more days now not crying than crying; but the heartache and physical pain of him not being here is not diminished one iota.

Blog 2 - April 30

Easter is over and the consumption of chocolate decreased, hopefully! So minds are being re-focused to the training programme for the Great South Run in October. Injury has plagued several of our runners but they are recovering slowly, with help from various professionals. The Encephalitis Society running shirts and vests have been received and the runners have chosen their picture of Nicholas to adorn the tops.

Julian -  Nicholas’ Dad. Continues to dislike running but is making progress. Julian has no Achilles tendon in one ankle, an old rugby injury which restricts his gait. Julian has completed several short runs. Julian is hoping to complete some local 10K runs over the coming months.

Rebecca - Nicholas’ Sister. Rebecca has been struggling with plantar fasciitis (pain on the bottom of the foot, around the heel and ankle) but exercise and supportive insoles are easing the pain; she  is unable to run but dog walks daily. Having read my first blog, Rebecca wants it noted that she intends to beat everyone!

Bethan - Nicholas’ Sister. Bethan is currently island hopping The Philippines, so no running. Bethan lives in London and whilst out for a short run recently became lost, and ended up completing a 10 mile run in less than one and a half hours! It appears that the competition is heating up.

Stephanie - Nicholas’ Aunt. Stephanie is struggling with her Achilles tendon too. Her ambitions to beat Bethan are diminishing.

Ed - Nicholas’ Cousin. Ed appears to be the most organised and sensible one of the runners. Downloading helpful information to the group’s Whatsapp chat. He will be challenging Bethan’s time.

Laura - Nicholas’ Godmother. Despite an early injury, Laura has managed 5K and has a running buddy, she will be moving up to a 10K run next month.

Gary - Family Friend. Gary has realised that last time he came 782nd, in the old man category despite not being that old! Gary’s main aim after much banter is to finish in one piece AND to beat Rebecca!

It is nine months since Nicholas’ death from complications, which arose from viral Encephalitis, which he contracted twenty years ago. As a family we have discovered that time does not heal all grief; time just allows you the ability to come to terms with something that you are unable to change. More importantly, it’s what you do with that time that determines the speed at which you start to heal. Thus it’s important to focus on yourself, your family and friends, and ‘allow’ the time required to grieve, which will differ from one person to another. Remembering, that those who are not directly affected by your grief have lives and focuses that may seem trivial and unimportant to you. Grief is a process and we have discovered there are no short cuts particularly when you are faced with the normal rhythm of life and family events such as birthdays, Easter, Mother’s day and soon Father’s day.

Blog 1

As families do the world over, we celebrated Nicholas’ birthday in February of this year.

However, Nicholas died last July (aged thirty-six years old) from complications rising from viral encephalitis, which had ravaged his mind and body for twenty years. How do you survive and move forward? As a family we are still working that out!

(Read Nicholas' Story)

Nicholas was our eldest and only son with two younger sisters. Rebecca, unable to buy her brother a birthday present, decided to run the Great South Run 2019 in memory of Nicholas and for the Encephalitis Society. Bethan, being the youngest, and with a healthy sibling competitiveness, decided to run too.

Nicholas’ death has greatly affected our family and friends. As Rebecca’s plan became common knowledge across the family, more and more people signed up to do the challenge. There are now seven runners raising money in memory of Nicholas.

Nicholas at his sister's wedding in 2016

Our team consists of:

Julian -  Nicholas’ dad. Not a natural runner; actually hates running but enjoys other sports! To sponsor Julian, visit his JustGiving Page

Rebecca - Nicholas’ sister. Completed a half marathon in 2016, and is a mother of three. Rebecca's JustGiving Page

Bethan  - Nicholas’ sister. Plays Netball weekly and holds the record in our family for having visited the most countries in the world! Will probably come first or second out of the team.

Stephanie - Nicholas’ aunt. Wants to come first or second but won’t! Not that we are competitive within our family! Stephanie's JustGiving Page

Ed - Nicholas’ first cousin once removed, but only four years older than Nicholas - families are complicated! Ed is the most likely to come first. Ed's JustGiving Page

Laura - Nicholas’ godmother. Never run before but enthusiastic, and encouraged by her family.

Gary - A friend of Rebecca’s who wanted to support us as a family and an all round good guy.

Who am I?

I’m Sarah, Nicholas’ mum, who has undertaken the task of writing a blog of the team’s training successes and any mishaps along the way. The greatest success of the last few weeks is the investment in new running trainers, booking hotels and a restaurant for twenty-eight people for after the run. And so the training begins...