With the wind howling and rain falling, Shift’s Jennie set off on Saturday morning to join Jog Derbyshire group Sole Mates for the Whitworth Thread – a 5k route which snakes its way around the Whitworth Park in Darley Dale, Matlock.
The weather couldn’t dampen spirits. This month was a special one for the group who were taking over the thread in aid of the Stroke Association after group member Joe suffered a stroke last year aged just 29.
The thread was the culmination of a Stroke Awareness Week organised by Sole Mates, which included a family fun day, games night and colour run and has raised more than £1400 for the Stroke Association and Different Strokes.
After an explanation of the route and a thunderous round of applause on announcement of the charity, the crowd – which comprised of all generations, right down to children in pushchairs – set off, with shrieks of excitement as we navigated our way through the sea of conkers and leaves littering the paths.
It really was a wonderful atmosphere to be part of. Especially watching the whole group rally round the remaining runners to complete their final lap in unison – singing, laughing and applauding them over the finish line.
We caught up with Joe’s wife Lydia and Sole Mates leader Rachel to find out more about Joe’s story and what inspired them to take on this fundraising challenge.
A life changing event
Lydia explains: “Last October whilst on holiday in Greece Joe suffered a life changing stroke. It left him with right sided weakness and took his speech. He spent three weeks in a hospital in mainland Greece and then a further week at Calow hospital in Chesterfield.
“It was a big shock and a big change for our family life but we’ve all just tried to stay as positive as we can. In the months since his stroke Joe has done really well with his recovery and continues to do so. He is now able to say quite a few words and has gained the use of his leg and arm and is now really working on getting full use of his hand back. He’s very determined and always positive.
Finding support through Sole Mates
“In January myself and Joe joined Sole Mates and this has really helped us both at this difficult time in our lives as we have made new friends and kept healthy and it has also been good for our mental health too. Previous to his stroke Joe enjoyed playing football, so the running has meant he can still stay active without pushing himself too hard.
“I don’t know what we would have done without them. It’s such a lovely group of people who are so supportive.
“The fundraising events mark a year since Joe’s stroke and celebrate how far he’s come. The Stroke Association has been invaluable for our family and has really helped us in any way they possibly can so we would just like to be able to give something back to them.
A charity close to our hearts
Rachel said: “We wanted to raise awareness of strokes and also funds to help the charities that support sufferers – this is something close to all our hearts since the Redfern family joined Sole Mates early in 2018.
“I was blown away by the positivity both Joe and Lydia radiate. They have had a life changing event to deal with and are still able to find positive outcomes for their family and find time for fitness! They are always laughing and are such warm and happy people to be around.
“They were well supported by the local community when Joe first had his stroke, and now want to give back to others. We are inspired by them and want to support them with this – they are a massive part of our running family.”
Find out more
Find out more about Sole Mates including when and where they jog here.
You can find your nearest Jog Derbyshire group here