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Woman to run London Marathon in memory of Suffolk student

Midwife Helen also hopes to raise awareness of the condition Picture: SUPPLIED BY HELEN BOWEN

Midwife Helen also hopes to raise awareness of the condition Picture: SUPPLIED BY HELEN BOWEN

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A close family friend of a diabetic Suffolk student - who tragically died in his sleep at university - is to run the London Marathon in his memory.

Tommy Green, who tragically died from complications arising from type 1 diabtetes last year. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYTommy Green, who tragically died from complications arising from type 1 diabtetes last year. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Tommy Green, from Elmswell, who had type 1 diabetes, was aged 21 when he suffered complications arising from his condition at Nottingham Trent University on May 7, 2017.

The former Thetford Grammar School student suffered diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – high blood sugar which results in a build-up of ketones in the body – during the night and never woke up.

Now family friend Helen Bowen, 56, who lives in Salhouse, near Wroxham, Norfolk, will tackle the 26.2-mile course across London to fundraise for Diabetes UK and also hopes to raise awareness of the condition.

MORE: Family of Elmswell student Tommy Green want to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes

Helen, who is a midwife at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, said: “I used to live next door to Tommy’s grandfather and that’s how we got to know the family.

Helen Bowen has run with Tommy's picture on her back before Picture: HELEN BOWENHelen Bowen has run with Tommy's picture on her back before Picture: HELEN BOWEN

“Tommy’s mum Jo was a nurse and so we just hit it off really.

“I have been trying to get into the London Marathon for some years and I was lucky enough to get a ballot place this year, so it just felt right to do it for Diabetes UK and for Tommy.”

Helen has completed more than 30 half marathons, but this will be her first attempt at going the full distance.

“I have run the Cardiff Half Marathon twice with Tommy’s picture on my back and it always generates a lot of interest,” she said.

Helen Bowen is running the London Marathon to raise money for Diabetes UK Picture: HELEN BOWENHelen Bowen is running the London Marathon to raise money for Diabetes UK Picture: HELEN BOWEN

“It’s very sad, but people stop and ask me what it is all about.”

Tommy’s mum, Jo Green, who has campaigned to raise awareness of the condition since her son’s death, said: “Helen running the London marathon is wonderful and as well as raising money she will be raising awareness for type 1 diabetes.

“She knows how important that is to us as a family.

“She will be seen by hundreds of people who when donating will learn about the signs and symptoms of this chronic disease which could save a life and be able to find out more about the amazing work Diabetes UK does.”

Tommy Green pictured with sister Molly. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYTommy Green pictured with sister Molly. Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Helen added: “I’m not setting myself any time targets, I’m just hoping to finish it.

“I can choose to run the marathon, people with diabetes type 1 like Tommy had, don’t get to choose.

“They can’t give up and I’m not going to, even if the marathon might take me a while.”

Signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes can include sudden blurred vision, above average thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, irritability and other mood changes, and fruity odoured breath.

Emma Edwards, from Diabetes UK, said: “We are very grateful for the support. We know people put a lot of training and preparation into the London Marathon.

“We do a great deal of research as well as providing support for people who live with diabetes.

“It’s tragic what happened to Tommy but his family are very keen to raise awareness of the condition and for people to recognise what the symptoms are, and that is quite a legacy.”

To sponsor Helen, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/helen-bowen6

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