‘Xanthe inspires me to push through the pain’ – Runner’s challenge for Suffolk youngster

Xanthe and Elisa Picture: Elisa Bostock

Xanthe and Elisa Picture: Elisa Bostock - Credit: Archant

Runner Elisa Bostock takes on three challenges for Hintlesham youngster.

To say 2017 was tough for Hintlesham-based personal trainer Elisa Bostock is an understatement. There were five bereavements in her family (including her dearly loved mum) and she had a period of illness herself. But hearing the plight of a child attending the same school as her daughter India, 6, provided a source of inspiration and focus, and has encouraged the keen runner to embark on a series of fundraising challenges.

Elisa, who trained and studied alongside Mo Farah, said: “One day I was walking back from school and I was very non-British and went over to Jess [Carter] and asked what’s wrong with her daughter Xanthe. She told me, and when she said how much the physio costs I was shocked. It was enough to dent any family’s pocket – and they pay for it all themselves. At the time I was doing races for my mum, but I thought, maybe I could help and run for Xanthe.”

Xanthe, 11, is a pupil at both Hintlesham Primary School and Thomas Wolsey School in Ipswich. When she was a baby, Xanthe fell gravely ill with pneumococcal meningitis. At the time she displayed few physical symptoms and went from being too well for a lumbar puncture, to too ill for the procedure within just one hour. Her parents Jess and Hugh were given the heartbreaking choice of turning off their daughter’s life support machine, but she pushed on through and finds, says Jess, enormous joy in life - from playing at school, to regular visits to the local paper shop in Hadleigh, which the Kersey youngster loves.

The one in five million little girl (who has brothers Otto and Milo) has pushed through every milestone her parents were told she’d never meet.

“When we came home from hospital we were told she’ll never run and she’ll never play the piano,” reveals Jess. “And we were like ‘she will’! And she’s getting there but all the skills she’s learned are affected by epilepsy. She has two to three seizures a day. Sometimes she recovers quickly, sometimes she doesn’t and sometimes they’re at night. But we still treat her normally and she’s so motivated by the things around her and loves being out and about.”

In 2016, following fundraising by two local people who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Xanthe and her family travelled to America where she received life-changing surgery to her legs, enabling her to walk variously with a stick, walker and unaided.

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However physio and speech therapy are still needed very regularly and are paid for mostly by the Carters who only have access to two hours of NHS physiotherapy a month.

Elisa is determined to help the family and has so far completed two out of three challenges for Xanthe in aid of Tree of Hope, a charity transforming the lives of sick children. Earlier this year she smashed her PB at Woodridge 10k to be the first lady across the finish line. She recently ran the London Vitality 10k, and on October 21 Elisa will take part in the Great South Run – 10 miles and her longest race to date, with a challenge to raise over £2,000.

“I love to see Xanthe’s progress,” says Elisa. “And when I’m in pain, pushing myself that last mile, I think of her because compared to what she goes through, my pain is nothing. And the fact she’s not given up is something I can relate too. I was brought up in a pretty tough family but Xanthe and her family are on another level. It’s phenomenal.

“As a runner you moan about training, but seeing Xanthe puts everything in perspective and there’s no backing out. One of the things that’s struck me about her and her family is their resilience in adversity and I’ve taken so much strength from this experience. They inspire me not to moan and to live day to day.”

“This is really humbling for us,” adds Jess. “I’m not often lost for words. At times I think, why do people do things for us when there’s so many other causes?. The community is just amazing and without this help Xanthe would be nowhere compared to where she is now.”

Help Elisa smash her target by going to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/elisa-bostock1