Mother of three Siobhan Stirling has raised more than £5,000 for the MS Society by running the New York Marathon on the day after her 50th birthday.
The former BBC journalist and author, who lives in Langton Green, took part in the US endurance event as the first of 50 challenges she intends to complete in her 50s.
She created the Siobhan’s 50 Challenges project to redefine mid and later life and inspire people
to join her in achieving more than they ever thought possible.
Siobhan’s second challenge is to raise £50,000 for the MS Society before she turns 60, in support of two of her best friends who live with multiple sclerosis.
Siobhan, who runs a communications agency, said: “One of my friends had to close her business and completely rethink her life because of MS.
“Another had a bad relapse recently and couldn’t clean her teeth or comb her hair. Sadly, it took two weeks for the MS nurse to call her back because she is so overstretched.
“MS can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, but it’s a Cinderella disease in terms of funding for support and research – it’s very seldom in the spotlight and there’s still no way of stopping the condition.
This was Siobhan’s fourth marathon. She took part in the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon in 2014, having previously been able to run 100 metres.
The following year she was taking part in the London race on behalf of the MS Society.
“Running has been key to me rebuilding myself following severe depression in my mid-40s,” she reveals. “I took it up by accident. I needed to make a public commitment to get fitter after struggling on an annual walking holiday.
“The medication that had caused my depression had also made me to put on two stone.”
She has received £1,000 of sponsorship towards the cause from CapitalSpace, which provides business accommodation across the South East.
Nicky Turner, area fundraiser at the MS Society, said: “We’re thrilled that Siobhan has set herself such an ambitious target to raise £50,000 for the MS community, and we’re delighted that CapitalSpace have helped her get off to a flying start.
“Her challenges over the next ten years will help us support more than 100,000 people living with MS in the UK and drive innovative research into the condition.”
Siobhan has set herself the target of walking 10,000 steps a day, and learning a card game every month, in the first year of her challenges, as well as reading a book every month across her 50s.