Stroke at the age of 35: Runner’s first Brighton Marathon will be for West Sussex rehabilitation centre supporting close friend

A Worthing runner whose marathon journey was affected by Covid-19 is finally able to do the Brighton Marathon, and he is doing it for a very special cause.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 9:30 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 9:39 am

Matthew Brunton is running for one of his closest friends, who suffered a stroke at the age of 35. She survived against all the odds and is now at the Donald Wilson House Rehabilitation Centre in Chichester.

Matthew has chosen Love Your Hospital as his charity for the Brighton Marathon on September 12, with the aim of supporting the rehabilitation centre at St Richard’s Hospital.

He said: “She is now recovering with the amazing support of her partner, my good friend Richard, and currently residing at the Donald Wilson House Rehabilitation Centre. The specialists are doing an amazing job to help Natalie through this.

Matthew and Maria Brunton SUS-200326-094908001

“To try to give back to Donald Wilson House for the care and support they’ve given both Natalie and Richard, we are asking for donations to help continue as many people as possible being able to receive their amazing services.”

Matthew said Natalie woke up on July 18 ready for a normal Sunday morning. Within a couple of hours, things took a sudden turn and she suffered a major stroke.

“Luckily Richard was aware of symptoms from seeing the F.A.S.T adverts and promptly called an ambulance,” he explained.

“Natalie was taken to Southampton Hospital, put into a coma and rushed into surgery to remove the blood clot on her brain.

Natalie, who had a major stroke at the age of 35, and her partner Richard

“Defying all odds, within the next whirlwind 24 hours, doctors woke her from the coma, she was responsive and no longer in a critical condition.

“A few days later, she was transferred back to Worthing Hospital’s stroke unit. After being here for a couple of weeks, Natalie was given the opportunity to go to Donald Wilson House. They are a specialist neurorehabilitation service, helping adults who have suffered brain trauma and providing programmes including rehabilitation, medical nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and social work.

“Natalie’s progression has been immense, she is almost fully mobile with just slight weakness in her right arm. Unfortunately, she is still struggling with aphasia (difficulty with speech). She knows exactly what she wants to say and understands everything everyone says to her but is having difficulty getting the words to come out.

“The specialists at Donald Wilson House are giving her speech therapy which is second to none and we can’t thank them enough for their support.

“To go from that Sunday afternoon when Richard was told to say his goodbyes to where Natalie is now just a few weeks later has been a complete emotional rollercoaster.”

Matthew, an experienced runner, started training for his first marathon in September 2019, then finished a San Diego 10k in the top ten in March 2020, less than 24 hours after landing in California to celebrate his wife Maria’s birthday.

With a place in the Brighton Marathon for April 2020, he was fired up for a fast finish. But then Covid struck and the race was pushed to September 2020.

After that second date was also cancelled, Matthew, desperate to run his first marathon, raced at Running GP, an organised event at Goodwood Motor Circuit on September 27 last year and he did it in 3 hours 50 minutes.

Now ready for the Brighton Marathon 2021, he has so far raised £483 for Love Your Hospital. Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthew-brunton6 to make a donation.