Travel agent Charlotte Bell is paying tribute to her late husband by running her first half-marathon.


Charlotte, of First Choice Hypermarket in Sheffield, lost her husband John last February. He died of motor neurone disease aged 31.


She has set her sights on raising £1,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association by running a half-marathon in Sheffield next April.


She said: “One of the reasons I was so keen to do this was to keep John’s memory alive. He did many things to help raise awareness and funds for the MNDA and I wanted to continue this on his behalf.”


Here she tells travelweekly.co.uk her story in her own words:


“I work for First Choice Hypermarket in Sheffield and have been here since opening in June 2000. I am currently a part-time sales person and prior to that worked for both Lunn Poly and Thomas Cook since leaving school.


I live in Killamarsh in Sheffield and my husband’s name was John Bell.


The Sheffield Half Marathon takes place on April 26, 2009. I have never ran a marathon before. In fact, prior to starting my training I was not a runner at all and would have avoided it all costs. But I decided to take part as a tribute to my late husband knowing that the South Yorkshire MND Association would directly benefit from the funds raised, as it helped us so much during the time John had been ill.


The MND Association receives little publicity but does such great work to help people suffering from motor neurone disease. The disease is one of the cruellest illnesses. My husband first discovered it with a twitching in his fingers and during his seven years of suffering it gradually took away all his movement, ability to eat and speak. It basically left him a prisoner in his own body. The only way in which we could communicate towards the end of his illness was through his eye movement. It was a terrible way to go.


The average life expectancy for a person suffering from motor neurone disease is 18 months to two years, so my husband survived al ot longer than we had originally expected. This enabled us to have two lovely little boys, who are now six and four years old and a  lasting legacy of my lovely husband. I have vowed I will do eveything I can to help the MND Association raise funds and awareness so that we can hopefully one day find a cure for this devastating illness.


We have done many things to help the MND Association in the past, from letting a film crew film out lives for a year for a documentary that was shown on ITV titled Trapped Inside My Bod and lots of interviews with local and national press and women’s magazines. John was also the subject of a hugley successful poster campaign that ran on the London Underground a few years ago called John’s Journey. This resulted in massive donations for the society and in turn the campaign was shown to now prime minister Gordon Brown, who pledged goverment money to help fund research into a cure for motor neurone disease. I am very keen to keep John’s memory alive by continuing with this.”