Partner of fallen soldier finishes awe-inspiring running challenge in his memory
22 October 2013 14:55
On Sunday 6 October, the partner of the 415th British service man to die has completed the 415 mile running challenge she organised in his memory and in aid of his favourite charity, Blind Veterans UK
Thea Davies shows off her medals after the Chester Marathon which she completed in 3 hours 56 minutes.
Thea Davies' life changed forever on 26th May 2012 when her partner, 29 year old Captain Stephen Healey of 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh, was killed by an IED explosion whilst serving in Afghanistan. At the inquest into his death Stephen was described by his Commanding Officer as "one of the best of his generation".
Wanting to do something worthwhile and meaningful in his memory, Thea set herself a 415 mile running challenge. She chose the number 415 because Steve was the 415th British service man to die since the beginning of the operation in Afghanistan.
In total, Thea, who is 30 and is based in Cardiff, has run over 20 marathons, half marathons, triathlons and long runs in the UK and other parts of the world in aid of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind ex-Service men and women. During his life, Stephen (Steve) demonstrated excellent support for Blind Veterans UK after he saw the impact its life-changing services had on a blinded comrade.
Thea ran the final 415th mile, or 'Steve's mile' - as she describes it - at the Chester Marathon on Sunday 6th October 2013. Chester Marathon was the first marathon Thea ever tackled when she did so with Steve in 2011. In addition to this, Chester is the home of Steve's barracks.
Thea said: "Steve was never one for just sitting around and neither am I. It was while watching the Brownlee brothers win gold and bronze in the London Olympics that I decided I needed to do something in Stephen's memory. The support I have received throughout has been phenomenal. I have had someone running every race with me, from army wives to Stephen's company commander."I am feeling rather emotional and apprehensive about running my final marathon this weekend but I know I'll get through! Steve will get me through as well as all those who are supporting me and I cannot thank them all enough for the love and support they have shown me through the past year".
Her courage, enthusiasm and determination are unwavering, Thea has singlehandedly raised an impressive £12,800 over the past year for Blind Veterans UK.
The national charity's Chief Executive, Robert Leader, said: "Thea's support for Blind Veterans UK has been one of the most inspirational things I have ever seen. At a time of enormous personal tragedy for her, she chose to take up Stephen's mantle and continue the amazing work that he had done to support ex-Service men and women, blinded both in action and later life. We owe both her and Stephen a huge debt of gratitude and what they have done for our people will never be forgotten".
Steve was an active fundraiser for Blind Veterans UK because of the support that the charity gave to a number of soldiers who had lost their sight through IED explosions in Afghanistan. Just before his last tour he organised a blindfolded sponsored walk to the charity's rehabilitation and training centre in North Wales.
You can read Thea's story on the BBC South East Wales news pages.