April 2016

UCB Assistant Dean completes marathon in memory of brave niece

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University College Birmingham is feeling inspired by Assistant Dean Nicky Millard’s Brighton Marathon success. 

Nicky completed the gruelling 26.2 mile course in memory of her much-loved niece Helena, who passed away last year following a courageous battle with cancer. She was aged just 16.

To date, Nicky has raised £1,600 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity which supported Helena following her diagnosis with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2013.

Powered by her personal mantra ‘A marathon doesn’t run itself!’, Nicky followed an intensive 16-week training plan - which started two days after Christmas.

She could be found pounding the streets most nights after work, averaging between 30 to 40 miles a week; sometimes even running home from UCB to Selly Oak.

When the big day arrived last Sunday (April 17) Nicky, who is Assistant Dean of UCB’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management, was feeling ready for it. She said: “I did train hard. Because I’d never done a marathon before, I was relying on the training plan to get me through. I felt good on Sunday. The atmosphere was amazing, and there was so much support from the crowds.”

When the going got tough, Nicky remembered her niece’s bravery. She said: “Helena never moaned about anything. She was always more worried about how everyone else was feeling. Two or three times we were told she hadn’t got long, but each time she fought back. She was really tough, and an inspiration to all of us. It really puts life into perspective when you see a young person going through cancer.”

Helena initially underwent 10 months of chemotherapy treatment at University College London Hospital. She received a bone marrow transplant and went into remission for a short time, before receiving the news that her cancer had returned and was terminal. She passed away on 4 October, 2015. 

Nicky treasures her memories of Helena’s love for art and crafts and her infectious smile. She added: “When the nights were cold and dark, it would have been easy to give up my training. But in comparison to what Helena experienced, it was just a very short period of discomfort.” 

To support Nicky, visit her JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Nicky-Brighton2016

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