Simon Parker grew up always thinking that he wanted to run the London Marathon, but never thought it would actually happen. After being an amateur runner for a couple of years, Simon finally decided that 2019 would be the year he would challenge himself and run the London Marathon, whilst raising funds for Aspire at the same time.

Simon in his Aspire running t-shirt

Simon, who has never run a marathon, started by running the Run Norwich 10k for a couple of years, followed by the Norwich half marathon last year.  He says, “I am enjoying the challenge of training, which is going well.  I am gradually increasing my distance and am taking part in various amateur races in my local area, including 10k runs, a half marathon and a 20 mile run.”

"As a charity, Aspire seemed a good fit for me as I have had back problems myself. In 2002, I unexpectedly awoke one morning with backache and numbness in my left leg and foot.” 

Simon’s back problem came as a complete surprise and he got the diagnosis that he had slipped two of the discs in his lower back and had to have a discectomy. Following surgery, Simon had no permanent damage to his spinal cord or nerves.  Then in 2011, Simon’s sister Sharon also slipped two discs in her lower back and had to have a similar surgery to Simon’s. However, Sharon’s operation was not as successful and post-surgery she continues to have ongoing problems with numbness and loss of feeling in one foot and lower leg. 

Simon says, “My sister and I had similar medical diagnoses but very different results following surgery.  Neither of us do any high-risk activities and we both work in an office, so for the two of us to sustain a similar injury made me realise that anyone, anywhere can be affected by this type of injury and the level of recovery can differ greatly, even if two people can have almost identical symptoms and undergo the same treatment.”

"My fundraising is going really well, and I’ve had amazing support from friends, family and colleagues. I am really proud to be representing Aspire and to be able to support people who have been paralysed by a spinal cord injury, as they may not be able to participate in a running event the way that I can, despite my past back issues. I think the whole day will be a unique experience and unable to be duplicated by anything else.”

Simon and family