They are taking up a challenge for very personal reasons.

Two Huddersfield runners will pound the streets of the capital in this year’s London Marathon, in memory of two beautiful little Huddersfield girls.

Matt Poole, of Clayton West, and James Walker, of Slaithwaite have been training hard for the gruelling 26.2 mile run, taking place on Sunday, April 24, and hope to raise over £6,000 for The SMA Trust, the charity dedicated to funding medical research into finding a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

SMA claimed the life of Matt’s 18-month old daughter, Rowan, in November 2012. The following year, James’ close friends Amy and Danny Hawtin, of Marsh, lost their little girl Abigail to the same cruel condition.

The two couples have supported each other in coming to terms with their shattering losses.

Baby Abigail Hawtin, of Marsh, who died of a genetic muscular condition.
Rowan Poole
Rowan Poole

SMA is a terminal muscle-wasting condition that causes weakness and wasting of the muscles in babies and children. It is a leading genetic killer of infants and toddlers under the age of two.

Matt said: “My wife, Sarah, and I were naturally devastated when Rowan passed away, and since then we’ve channelled our energy in to pushing ourselves to the limit in sporting fundraising events in order to keep Rowan’s memory alive and raise vital funds to help find a cure for this heart-breaking condition.”

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Matt has previously taken part in a 100-mile coast-to-coast running, cycling and kayaking event in Scotland and completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, while his wife, Sarah, has completed gruelling long-distance open lake swims, amongst many other events to raise funds for The SMA Trust.

Of all neuromuscular conditions, SMA is believed to be the closest to finding a cure. Matt’s and James’ London Marathon sponsorship will support the SMA trust in funding vital research into treatments and finding a cure for SMA.

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Amy Hawtin said: “Losing Abigail was heart-breaking, but we have been amazed by the fantastic support shown to us by family, friends and the people of Huddersfield, as we endeavour to raise the vital funds required to halt this punishing condition in its tracks.

“We are extremely grateful to James for the incredible effort he is going to, by completing such a demanding challenge in memory of our precious daughter.”

The SMA Trust has raised over £3m since it was founded in 2003 and now funds 75% of all UK charity funded research into the condition.

To donate to Matt’s cause, visit: www.justgiving.com/MattPooleVLM2016

To donate to James, visit: www.justgiving.com/James-Walker-TeamAbigail