Hexham man proposes to girlfriend after 123-mile charity run

A CHARITY runner proposed to his girlfriend just minutes after completing a gruelling challenge to help those affected by cancer.

Stephen Turnbull with fiancee Helen Hails

A CHARITY runner proposed to his girlfriend just minutes after completing a gruelling challenge to help those affected by cancer.

Stephen Turnbull got down on one knee and made the romantic gesture after running 123 miles for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The 46-year-old went from Whitehaven, in Cumbria, to Tynemouth in just five days and had to battle the region’s torrid thunderstorm to reach his final destination.

His girlfriend, Helen Hails, 33, a sales assistant, was with him every step of the way as she was doing the route by car.

Stephen, an IT sales manager, of Acomb, near Hexham, Northumberland, knew he was going to ask Helen to marry him at the end of his mammoth charity run.

The couple had only been together nine weeks and, to make things even more special, it was Stephen’s birthday on the day that he proposed.

He said: “I couldn’t have done the run without Helen’s help.

“The final day was amazing. I ran 35 miles, which was the furthest I ever have, and was just getting slower and slower. Thinking about my family, Sir Bobby and the people backing me for his charity really helped.

“My head was so full up. It was my last day and I knew my mum and family would be at the beach, it was also my birthday and I knew I was going to propose to Helen.

“But when I got to Tynemouth I was so exhausted all I could think was, I can’t believe the flaming tide’s out, now I’ve got another couple of hundred yards to run.

“Helen came down to the sea with me and I got down on one knee to propose. Thankfully she said yes, and the first thing she did as my fiancee was to help me get back up.

“It was quite an emotional time, and I had carried the engagement ring for the final 10 miles of the run.”

The devoted couple have not yet set a date for the wedding, but said they do not anticipate it will be a long engagement.

Helen added: “I knew Stephen was the one for me, and I didn’t hesitate in saying yes when he asked me to marry him. I’m very much looking forward to our future together.”

Stephen, coach of Hexham Greens FC, had been thinking about doing the Coast to Coast run for some time as he was tormented for years by the map of northern England on his office wall.

Eventually his family’s personal experiences with cancer pushed him to undertake the challenge to raise funds in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

He said: “It’s hard to explain, but that map on the office wall has distracted me for ages. Thinking about doing the Coast to Coast run just wouldn’t go away.

“Finally I decided to do it because of what cancer has done to my family. My aunt died from breast cancer, my cousin died aged just 29 and my mum is fighting terminal liver cancer now.

“I’m a football coach and big fan of Sir Bobby Robson, and I immediately thought of his Foundation.”

Stephen’s target for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation was £500 and he has gone on to raise more than £1,500.

If you want to give a donation to Stephen visit www.justgiving.com/run4sirbobby

 

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