AN inspirational autistic woman has spoken of her pride at completing the Great North Run, having only made running part of her life at the start of the year.

In January, Jenny Dell, an NHS health care assistant from Darlington, responded to a call from the North East Autism Society (NEAS) for fundraisers to get fit for 2023.

With our support, she started training by embarking on the ‘Couch to 5k’ training programme.

Despite suffering from Covid during the eight-week programme, she hit her 5k target, became a regular at the Darlington Parkrun, and signed up to tackle the Great North Run in aid of NEAS.

She has now completed the world’s biggest half-marathon in a time of two hours and 53 minutes, raising around £800.

“At the start of the year, I needed some support, and I was given that by NEAS, so I wanted to give the charity something back. I decided to try to get fit enough to have a go at the Great North Run and it has been one of the experiences of my life,” said Jenny, who lives at Hurworth Place.

A year ago, I would not have believed I could do it, but knowing I was raising money for such an amazing charity drove me on. When I crossed the finishing line at the end of the Great North Run, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

“Running is now an important part of my life. It has transformed how I feel, and I’ve met a lot of nice people along the way, so I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved.”

Jenny paid tribute to NEAS for the support she was given during her training, and paid particular tribute to the charity’s fundraising officer, Jon Appleton.

“Jon has been brilliant all the way through, always there to give me guidance and encouragement,” she said.

Jenny was one of 40 NEAS runners from across the North-East who took part in the Great North Run, and the charity hopes to top £20,000 thanks to their efforts.

Jon said:

Jenny was an inspirational member of our team and it has been incredible to see how she has gone from strength to strength, and made running part of her life. She’s a role model and we couldn’t be more proud of her.

Jenny is now already making plans to beat her time in next year’s Great North Run – again in support of NEAS.

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