A WOMAN took on her first Great North Run in almost a decade in memory of her grandad.

Kate Hawkins, from Hexham, ran the half-marathon eight years ago, but hasn’t done it since following the birth of her two children.

But after her grandad, Michael Clarke, died last December she decided to run the race again in his memory.

Michael suffered from dementia with Lewy bodies, so Kate chose to support Alzheimer’s Research UK

Kate explained: “My grandad always wanted me to keep running. He said it was good for me.

“We were very close. My mum worked so my grandparents looked after me all the time.

“After I had my kids I moved just round the corner, so my daughter was very close to him too.

“He used to deliver all the papers to the old ladies in the bungalows around his because he was one of the only men, and he used to shovel snow in the winters. He never realised he was old.

“When he was diagnosed it was awful. It was even worse when he died, even though we knew it was coming. I raised the money and ran for him.”

Kate, who is a single mum, found it tough to get out of the house and train for the race until around three months beforehand.

Despite this, she still managed a respectable time of two hours and 55 minutes – helped along by a beer given to her by a roadside spectator.

Kate added: “I was emotional after the race, but I felt really good. I felt my grandad was with me at those points in the race where you hit a wall.

“People who I never would’ve expected have donated. I really appreciate it. It shows how popular my grandad was. He was the best of the best, a true gent.”

Donations can still be made to Kate’s campaign at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kate-hawkins7.

l More on pages 74-75