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Wednesday, 17 July 2024

Proud mother starts charity race in son’s memory

A mother is calling on people from Cambridge, and surrounding areas, to sign up for Bidwells Cambridge Town and Gown 10k, on Sunday 15 October.

Angela Gilmour and husband Brian, both 65, from Petersfield, Hampshire, will officially start the historic race in memory of their beloved, son, Jonathan, as it returns to the city for the twelfth year.

Thousands will take to the streets of Cambridge, all in support of Muscular Dystrophy UK to raise awareness and much-needed funds for the charity, which funds research into treatments for rare, life-limiting muscle wasting and weakening conditions and supports the 110,000 children and adults across the UK living with these conditions.

In 1993, aged seven, Jonathan was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, at age 13 he started to use a wheelchair and by age 15 he had completely lost the ability to walk. Despite this he went on to incredible academic achievements, he was a PhD student, at the University of Cambridge, after achieving a first-class honours degree at St John’s College.

Jonathan, an avid supporter of the charity, featured in a BBC’s Lifeline appeal with Sue Baker in 2015, met His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, who was the patron of the charity and was passionate about raising awareness of his condition and Muscular Dystrophy UK.

In April 2022, aged 35, Jonathan died, his final resting place is in the grounds of St John’s College, having lived and loved the city for almost 17 years of his life.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when he was forced to spend two years shielding, he said:

“I’ve known for a long time how fragile life is – the rest of the world is just catching up.”

Angela, a former secondary school teacher, said:

“Call it mother’s instinct but I just knew that something was wrong, even before Jonathan was born. As a child he was often clumsy, he would fall over, he couldn’t walk very far, and he wasn’t reaching his milestones. We went back and forth from the GP, and after my perseverance, we got referred to a paediatrician. Finally, after years of not knowing it was confirmed Jonathan had Duchenne muscular dystrophy – it was a total shock.

“We’d always encouraged Jonathan to look forward at what he could achieve and not what he had lost. Jonathan’s life mantra was that he wanted people to see his ability and not his disability – as it didn’t define him.”

Angela was due to officially open last year’s Bidwells Cambridge Town and Gown but couldn’t attend as she was hospitalised with pneumonia. Angela and Brian are determined to open this year’s event in person.

The closed-road city centre route takes in the sights of the city and the River Cam, with thousands of runners expected to complete the 10k course, along with the Junior 3k course for children aged between 9-15 years old. The event will be going carbon neutral for the first time thanks to the title sponsor Bidwells, the largest property consultancy in the region.

Angela continued:

“To officially start Bidwells Cambridge Town and Gown in Jonathan’s name, is just perfect. It links his love for Cambridge, as he was a Gown through and through, along with highlighting a cause he lived with for so many years. We want to wish all the people giving up their Sunday to raise money for a condition, that our son had, the very best of luck and we are grateful for your support.”

The Town and Gown series started in Oxford in 1982 inspired by a local boy, Daniel Cleaver, who had muscular dystrophy. His father Mike and local runners set up the event as a fun run to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK, and still to this day all profits from the events go to the charity.

Collectively, it’s raised more than £3 million and every 10k makes a difference, so please sign up for your place today:

Avinash Bhogun, Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Town and Gown Series Events Manager said:

“It’s an honour for this year’s Bidwells Cambridge Town and Gown, to be started by Angela and Brian, in memory of Jonathan, who was a true inspiration.

“You could help fund groundbreaking research and life-changing support for people living with muscle wasting and weakening conditions, sign up today and help us get a step closer to finding a cure.”

Learn more about the Gilmour’s family story:


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