UPPERMILL’S Andy Plowright triumphed over adversity to recently complete the Manchester Half Marathon.
And the father-of-three young boys hopes his remarkable story will inspire others with serious illnesses and injuries to keep going on their rehabilitation journey.
To complete a 13.1 mile run three years ago was unthinkable as Andy suffered a brain tumour aged 40 that resulted in part of his skull having to be removed and left him unable to walk.
Andy was helped back on his feet by Physio Matters, the specialist neurological physiotherapists based in Oldham that treats people who have brain injuries.
And after three years’ work, Andy was able to run the half marathon raising nearly £1,700 for The Brain Tumour Charity.
Andy’s operation to remove his brain tumour in 2015 involved removing a portion of his skull and was followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The treatment left Andy, operations manager in the division of pharmacy and optometry at the University of Manchester, with difficulties moving his hands and feet and unable to walk.
Following intensive rehabilitation with Physio Matters, Andy learnt how to stand and walk again, indoors at first and then eventually outdoors. Balance and strength work followed until Andy recovered his stamina and improved his walking ability, until he was able to walk from Uppermill to Greenfield to catch the train to work in Manchester.
To further improve his fitness, Andy joined Greenfield Greyhounds, a running club for beginners which helps people build up to running a 5k, and then progress to 10ks, half marathons and further.
“Running the half marathon was a brilliant experience,” said Andy. “I was dreading it on the start line but ended up absolutely loving it. It just felt good the whole way round. I hadn’t run more than 10 miles before so I can’t quite believe I had so much in the tank.”
“I had a really good friend running with me, Dr Nadhim Bayatti, who helped keep me safe in the chaos of the first and last few miles,” he explained.
“My plan was to run it in under 2hrs 30mins, so I was delighted to finish even faster in 2hrs 10min. I was reeling people in with a big smile on my face for the last mile or two!”
Colin Green, clinical director of Physio Matters, said: “We are really proud of all that Andy has achieved. I’ve always been impressed by his determination and positive attitude.
“As his physio team, it has been very rewarding to see how much he has improved and how hard he has worked during his rehabilitation to get to this point. He’s a real inspiration and I’m delighted with his success.”
Colin, a keen ultra-runner, also set up Greenfield Greyhounds in 2011 to introduce absolute beginners to running as a hobby and sport. The club has helped over 500 people to start running.
Andy has already signed up for the next Manchester Half Marathon, as well as the Liverpool Half Marathon, and hopes his example can help others in their rehabilitation journey.
“Words can’t express my gratitude for what Colin and his brilliant team have done for me since my brain surgery. Such a friendly, knowledgeable and professional bunch. I’ve gone from cautiously shuffling around my living room to training for a half marathon thanks to the care I’ve received and the customised rehab plans and exercises they’ve provided,” said Andy.
“I hope my run can motivate other people who have had a similar life-changing illness or injury,” he said. “Thanks to Physio Matters, I’ve been able to improve my mobility so much. Rehabilitation is hard work but if I can do it after what happened to me, then anyone can. I’ve learnt there is still a lot you can achieve – just give it a go!”
• Greenfield Greyhounds was set up by Colin in January 2011 to introduce absolute beginners to running as a hobby and sport. The group caters for runners of all abilities with club members promoting the enjoyment of running, sharing tips and experiences on all aspects of the sport, and supporting each other to increase their abilities.
The club meets on Tuesday evenings at Tame Valley Tennis and Squash Club with a variety of groups catering for different abilities, including beginners and those who want to push their abilities to 5k, 10k, half marathons and full marathons.