Introducing our 2021 Virgin London Marathon runners, Virtual London Marathon runners and Great North Run runners

Published: Tue, 20th July 2021, 09:50:00 AM
Volunteer Event Ambassadors Needed

Help Support Our Runners!

We are recruiting Volunteer Event Ambassadors!

If you are looking for an occasional or one-off volunteering opportunity to get involved, why not come along and support our TOFS runners taking part in the Great North Run and London Marathon this year.

As a Volunteer Event Ambassador, it’s your job to make as much noise as you can when our incredible runners pass our cheering points along the routes! You really can make all the difference when it comes to helping them reach the finish line!

Find out more at:

We are delighted to announce that the following people will be running in the 2021 Virgin London Marathon:

Amreeta Aytain. You can support Amreeta here

Chris Gallavin. You can support Chris here

Helen Bailey. You can support Helen here

Mark Caldwell. You can support Mark here

James Holmes. 

More stories and fundraising links to follow.

Amreeta Aytain 

My name is Amreeta! Perhaps many of you have read my posts on the group so know my background with TOFS anyway.

I’m running the London marathon to support the TOFS charity as they've been the biggest support network we have had since our son - Rohan was born with long gap pure OA in 2019, and oh man what a rough two years it has been!

Rohan has had a long and complicated journey since his birth, so like many TOF and OA parents we have needed this community to help get us through the tough times as well as celebrate any good. He is still fully jejunally fed, the dream is that one day he is eating and drinking orally.

I hope to raise as much money as possible for TOFS and would appreciate your support on my journey to complete the marathon. Thank you!  


Chris Gallavin

Hi, my name is Chris and daddy to 8mth old Luca who was born with OA/TOF.

Since finding out in early February 2020 that I would become a daddy for the first time, it has been a very strange and challenging 17 months! Starting with a global pandemic, complications with the pregnancy, constant check-ups at hospital (which my partner had to do all on her own due to coronavirus rules!) to finding out 2 days after Luca was born that he would need life-saving surgery.

Like many families with a TOF child, I had no idea of this condition and how rare and challenging it is until Luca was born. This is where the TOFs charity came to the rescue and gave us so much information and the opportunity to talk to other families in the same situation as us.

Since Luca had his corrective surgery, he’s had a number of stretches and other renal surgeries and has been our brave little soldier throughout. He is my little hero!

I’d like to thank this amazing charity for the opportunity to run the London Marathon to hopefully make both my partner and Luca as proud as they make me and hopefully raise lots of money along the way.



Helen Bailey

21 years after saying “you've got to run a marathon to run a marathon” I'm delighted to say TOFS (Tracheal-Oesophageal Fistula Support) has given me the opportunity to do just that.

To be fair, life did take a rather unexpected turn when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at 12 weeks pregnant with our first child. But chemotherapy was nothing compared to the battle Benjamin has fought. He chose life from the moment of conception, withstanding 5 rounds of chemo and me critically ill with pneumonia before even making his grand entrance to the world 9 weeks early...and that was just the prologue to his own incredible story. Being born with TOF and OA (Oesophageal Atresia) has meant breathing and eating have been a constant challenge. However, an extensive medical and surgical career, along with lots of tears, sweat and micromanagement from us, combined with sheer strength and determination from Benjamin, he is living a remarkably fulfilling life.

It would be fair to say we are in awe of the way Benjamin faces every day. He really is one of the most resilient individuals and we are truly blessed to have the privilege of calling him our son.

You are our real-life superstar and dearly loved by so many people, so Benjamin......this is for you xx


Mark Caldwell

Hi, my name is Mark Caldwell, 35yrs old from Dundee in Scotland. I am running the marathon on behalf of TOFS for my wee nephew.  He will be 6 years old this year and is a fun happy outgoing wee lad. The early days were tough for him and catching colds etc. made it worse. Thankfully now he is a happy fun outgoing wee boy.

For the first year or so he had numerous hospital admissions with awful respiratory and chest infections as well as choking episodes. But he has gone from strength to strength in the last year or so, he’s now off all daily medications and is active and healthy. 😊😊👍 


James Holmes - story and photo to follow

Luke Jones - story and photo to follow

We are delighted to announce that the following people will be running the 2021 Virtual London Marathon:

Andrew Euesden. You can support Andrew here

Christopher Wilson. You can support Christopher here

Denise Stukins. You can support Denise here

Louisa Jakeways. You can support Louisa here

Vanessa Wilson. You can support Vanessa here

Crystal Brook and Tom Davies. You can support Crystal and Tom here.


Chris Wilson

Many people reading this will know how we felt on the day Clara-Leisa was born, my world changed forever in both a good way and a bad. 

The joy of becoming a father was just as much as the confusion of what life had in store for my daughter. 

I spent 44 nights in a row in hospital with Clara and one thing that kept me going was the thought of helping others who were in my position. 

So, when I got an email asking for runners for the Virtual London Marathon I thought ‘why not? If Clara can do all this in her short life, then I can sure as hell run/walk/crawl a marathon. 

Denise Stukins

So, my running journey started 2 years ago when I started with couch to 5k and never in a million years thought I would be where I am now. Last year I remembered saying “I can never run a 1/2 marathon” (I’ve now run 8) and now I’m taking the challenge of a full marathon.  It’s a huge dream of mine to say I’m a marathon runner and it literally would be one of my best achievements in life. One of my customers is a member of TOFS as her daughter was born with the condition. Raising money for some special charities (TOFS, FACT, and Mental Health Resource) makes it so much better too. Hoping I can reach my target. 

Louisa Jakeways mum to Owen (2ys) born with TOF/OA 

I feel so proud to run the London Virtual Marathon for TOFS and help them raise money to continue their valuable work supporting future TOF families. We first heard about them from our son's surgeon (the brilliant Mr Wilkinson at Manchester Children's) and they have been with us for every question or anxiety since. I've chosen to run in a bee costume and take a bee-themed route in honour of the wonderful staff at Manchester children's hospital. This will be my first marathon since Owen was born and by the time I run it, he will be three years old.  I cannot believe how far he has come, due mainly to his tenacity and beautiful spirit like all our inspirational TOF families.


Vanessa Wilson

This is Clara born last year with TOFS. I never knew what this condition was until she was born. I’d never heard of anyone with this. As a family the first 3 months were the hardest especially for Chris and Rosie, Clara’s parents. Having to see their little bundle of joy go through so much and numerous operations.

We live in Lincoln and Clara was taken to the QMC hospital in Nottingham. We relied on Chris and Rosie to keep us updated on progress. In the photo you can see me holding her for the first time at 3 months (her first day out of hospital). She managed 4 days before having to go back to hospital. She had stopped breathing while out in the park with her parents. Thankfully, this time it was just a short one week stay.

As you can see from the other photo at 9 months she is doing well. She is a happy little lady who loves her food.

I am running the Virtual London Marathon in the hope of raising funds and raising awareness of Clara’s condition. It is also my way of saying a big thank you for the help and support the charity has given to Chris and Rosie, and I’m sure many other families.

Crystal Brook and Tom Davies

We are excited to be able to take on the Virtual London Marathon for our wonderful sassy three and a half year old Leo (twin to Fox)!  We never in a million years thought that we would be taking on such a challenge but when the opportunity arose we thought ‘why not?!’.  We’ve had a bumpy ride since the boys were born and we wouldn’t have got through it had it not been for the information and support we’ve received from TOFS!  We’re so excited to take part in the VLM and hope to raise lots of money for TOFS!


Hi, my name is Andrew Euesden, 36yrs old from Essex and I am running the marathon on behalf of TOFS for my son Aiden.
In the beginning things were pretty scary, having him whisked off to ICU after birth and having to have corrective surgery at 3 days old. Then spending time at the hospital with him until he was healthy enough to bring home. Then all the medications he was on over the initial years to help with the acid reflux and other symptoms... But despite all that he has grown to be a strong, happy and intelligent boy with a thirst to learn. He turns 13 this year and is now a healthy and active boy.

I hope to raise money for TOFs so that other families can benefit from their support. I have been challenging myself recently and trying to improve my own health and thought it would be a great opportunity to help a worthy cause at the same time. 

We are delighted to announce that the following people will be running the 2021 Great North Run:

Alice Hazlehurst. You can support Alice here

Chris Prickett. You can support Chris here

Gerald Hovenden. You can support Gerald here

Lisa Honeyman. You can support Lisa here

Marc Charnley. You can support Marc here


Alice Hazlehurst

I was born with TOF/OA in 1990 and had my repair at Leeds General Infirmary at just 1 day old. I had various other surgeries throughout my first few years, including a colostomy and later reversal, and have plenty of scars to prove it! Despite a rough start, I have been lucky enough to lead a mostly normal and healthy life – I am now studying for my PhD and live in Leeds with my husband and our 3 cats.

I will be running the Great North Run to fundraise for the TOFS charity who do so much to support those born with TOF and their families. The charity, and their dedicated Facebook group for adult TOFS, has been a great source of support for me personally in recent years and I hope my small contribution will help them to continue their amazing work.

I have been running for a few years now but have stuck to shorter distances so far! This will be my first half-marathon so I’m sure the extra kilometres will be a challenge but I’m looking forward to taking it on.


Chris Prickett

Hi, I'm Chris to most, or Mr Prickett to some, and I'm planning to do the Great North Run 2021 for the TOFS charity. TOFS get no help from any government funding so it's pretty awesome really considering all the support they give to those born unable to swollow...

Awesome features quite a lot in my life, and not least the reason I'm here running. It's great to think of oneself as inspiring others (teaching...) but it is truly wonderful to be inspired by those around you. Hurdles to overcome, never giving in, getting up and carrying on as normal just when you thought it wasn't possible. That's why I'm here, supporting the charity that has supported our family and so many others over the years.

She's a "grown -up" now, so I'm going to leave it there, thank you for reading this, and maybe think about supporting them, as they support so many.


Gerald Hovenden

I’ve been a ‘Vicar’ for most of my working life. I retired in 2017. On 15th April 2018 my grandson, Gideon, was born with long-gap OA. He spent the first 19 months of his life in hospital, to begin with in London and subsequently in Bristol where he underwent a jejunal transposition. He has been home with his mum and dad since November 2019. Gideon is now 3yrs old and is doing wonderfully well, though there are still hurdles to overcome.

The support from TOFS is greatly appreciated and vital and this the reason that I am pleased to run the GNR and raise much-needed money for this charity. This year will be my 10th half marathon.

Lisa Honeyman

I started running during lockdown last year to improve my mental and physical health but didn’t do too much, however this year to date I’ve ran almost 1000km and I am feeling great.  I try to run daily and have recently tested myself by running the 13.1 required miles.


My passion for wanting to run the GNR21 for TOFS comes from my love of Super George and all TOFS have helped him achieve so far in his life.  The support that TOFS provided George’s parents has been outstanding and I would like to give something back to TOFS to say thank you!

Marc Charnley

My Son Dexter was born in 2019 in our local hospital, and it was quickly established that something was not right. Later that afternoon we were transferred to Alder Hey Hospital.

When we arrived my partner Liz and I were told that Dexter needed emergency surgery to correct his condition called tracheo-oesophageal fistula.

After a brief explanation as to what this was, Dexter was being prepared ready for surgery.  

Surgery was conducted by Prof. Losty and it was revealed that Dexter had a short gap which was mended during the procedure.

Hoping that this was the start of new beginnings, after a couple of days in PICU we were sent to a different ward with the advice of buying the TOF book and joining the TOF groups Facebook page.

We quickly found out this was only the beginning of a long journey. Dexter developed a chyle leak. When we were finally allowed home 3 weeks later things were still not right. 

Dexter was in and out of Alder Hey following multiple blue episodes and it was advised that Dexter would require more surgery, this time an operation called aortopexy.

Another month followed and Dexter grew stronger allowing time for me to read up on what exactly a TOF kid is. Dexter is now up and running like most other children his age. The TOFS charity has been a massive support with regards to advice and being able to converse with other TOFS and parents.

I feel it's only right to repay the support that TOFS has shown me and my family.


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