A TEENAGER is taking on the Great North Run to raise money for research into the disease that claimed the life of her best friend.

Eighteen-year-old Maia Gray will take part in the half marathon on Sunday.

She will be running in memory of her best friend, Rhya Story, who was from Greenhead.

Rhya and Maia were pupils at Haydon Bridge High School in 2014 and became close friends.

However, in 2015 Rhya died suddenly from an aggressive, inoperable brain tumour at just 14-years-old.

Rhya was a keen footballer for Haltwhistle United U15s, and her battle against the disease captured the support of the footballing world.

Players from AC Milan, Newcastle United, and Rangers – including Alan Shearer – backed the #HEART4RHYA hashtag with messages of support and comfort.

Maia described her and Rhya’s friendship as very close.

She said: “Rhya and I were best friends. We clicked as soon as we met.

“We were both sporty and competitive and became best friends at the beginning of year nine.

“At the end of the school year we said goodbye and didn’t get around to meeting up over the summer holidays.

“She never came back to school after that, as she’d been suffering from really bad headaches and was taken ill.

“She died four weeks after being diagnosed with this terrible disease. It was just so tragic.”

A self-confessed non-runner, Maia decided to run and raise money for Brain Tumour Research.

She made the decision after discovering that the disease killed more people under 40 than any other cancer, but just one per cent of national spend on cancer research was allocated to brain tumours.

She continued: “It’s unacceptable to think that Rhya’s death and the deaths of so many other young people could have been prevented, had more funding gone into finding a cure.

“My auntie has also been treated for a brain tumour, but is thankfully now in remission. Too many people are affected by this cruel condition; it’s a cause close to my heart.”

“I’ve set my target at £500 but I’m hoping to smash that. Anyone who knows me knows I never run and so the training has been tough.

“My grandma, aunty and mum have all completed the race previously, so that’s extra motivation and they’ll be there to cheer me on. Finishing the race will be a huge achievement.”