South Yorkshire woman takes on half marathon to fund heart research

A young Barnsley woman is taking on the world's biggest half marathon to raise funds for Yorkshire-based national charity, Heart Research UK, after the sudden death of her cousin, aged just 15.

Sheldon Ridley, 22, will be running the Great North Run on Sunday September 11 to help raise awareness and to fund the charity’s pioneering research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease after she witnessed its devastating impact first hand.

Sheldon’s cousin, Benjamin Holmes, died in 2008 from suspected Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), with the coroner recording the death as being of natural causes. Causing unexpected and sudden death, SADS is diagnosed where no definite cause of death can be found. Similar to sudden cardiac death, it’s usually caused by an underlying heart condition. SADS is rare and more research is needed to fully understand it.

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Sheldon, a recent English and journalism graduate, said: “It was devastating for all the family, especially as Benjamin was so young with all his life ahead of him. I was just 14 at the time and he was more like a brother than my cousin.

“As a family the only positive thought we have, besides remembering Ben, is that one day with more funding research will be carried out in to this specific area bringing advanced testing and saving more young lives.”

Heart Research UK are currently funding a research project to develop a simple, accurate and cost-effective test, to predict which patients are at risk of sudden cardiac death and whose lives could be saved by an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

Sheldon is a keen runner and has participated in a number of 10K runs before but at over double the distance, a massive 21K, the Great North Run will be a great challenge for her.

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She added: “I am really looking forward to the run. It seems like it will be so exciting and emotional, as well as exhausting. It will be the biggest fitness challenge I will have ever done. Every summer I start running but it always dwindles off, so signing up to an event and fundraising for a cause so close to my heart means I have no excuses. It’s the perfect encouragement.”

Barbara Harpham, Heart Research UK’s national director, said: “Sheldon is a young lady who wants to make a real difference and by taking on the Great North Run and raising money, she’ll be helping hearts in Yorkshire. We urge others to sign up so they can help hearts near them.”

Sheldon will be following in the footsteps of some of the greats in long distance running, like Mo Farrah and Paula Radcliffe by taking part in the Great North Run which covers 13.1 miles between Newcastle and South Shields.

She will be cheered on by her partner, George, as she runs alongside 55,000 others in the event this September. She’s chosen to support Heart Research UK so that she can raise funds to help others who suffer from heart disease – and others can do the same.

To support Sheldon, visit: