17th Jan, 2020

Man trekked through Forest of Arden to mark his 50th birthday in memory of loving friend

FOR his 50th birthday, Mark Norman did not want gifts or a party – instead he set himself the challenge of walking 50 miles through the ancient Forest of Arden in aid of a national brain tumour charity.

Keen walker Mark set off on a 22-hour epic journey at 4am from his Solihull home on Saturday, October 16, accompanied by friends en route, and returning at 2.30am. His scenic hike took in Hampton-in-Arden, Henley-in-Arden and Tanworth-in-Arden.

National Grid customer services employee Mark aimed to raise £1,500 for Thornbury-based Brain Tumour Support in South Gloucestershire.

He and wife Julie were introduced to the charity through close friends Tony and Nikki Borman, not long after Tony’s diagnosis with aggressive brain cancer, Glioblastoma. Sadly Tony died on December 4 last year.

So far, Mark has exceeded his original goal and raised more than £1,700 which he hopes will fund a Support and Information event for Brain Tumour Support.

On his fundraising page, Mark wrote: “Having experienced the face of the charity first hand at one of their conferences, I can vouch for how engaged they are in helping those living with diagnosis, whether the patient or the family. The money I am aiming to raise is to cover the costs of one of the charity’s information days. These are invaluable for helping anyone going through this diagnosis to know they do not have to face this challenge alone.”

Julie says her husband was spurred on his arduous challenge by messages of goodwill from friends and members of their church Tamworth Christadelphian, supported by other parishioners from Kings Heath, plus Knowle and Dorridge.

She said: “He received messages all day and night to keep him going. People weren’t surprised that he wanted to do something like this as they know what he’s like – he is a good listener.”

Julie, whose mother Josephine Broadhurst, also died as a result of a brain tumour, helps out every Tuesday morning at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. In addition she helps run a support group on the last Tuesday of the month at John Lewis, Birmingham (4th floor, cafe) for anyone affected by the condition – whether through diagnosis or losing someone.

She said: “My mother died of a brain tumour 19 years ago aged 62. She was diagnosed in the March and had died by the June. At that time there was no information or support.

“Brain Support Support offers one-to-one support, telephone support and support groups across the country.”

Nadya Anscombe, PR and Communications Manager for Brain Tumour Support said: “Mark’s achievement is astonishing. He faced many challenges but got through it with the help of his friends and family. He has raised more than enough to fund a Support and Information Day, which means we can reach more brain tumour patients and their families and give them the support they so urgently need.

“Demand for our support services is growing and we rely on our fabulous volunteers and fundraisers to ensure that we can achieve our vision that no-one feels alone when faced with a brain tumour diagnosis.”

As he missed out on a birthday party, Julie is organising a surprise Afternoon Tea treat for her husband this weekend.

For more information about the charity go to: https://www.braintumoursupport.co.uk/ or tel Julie on 07532 040409.

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