Tragedy spurs on charity runner

Marie Titley and her partner Joe Horsfall
Marie Titley and her partner Joe Horsfall
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It will be a busy New Year for Marie Titley as she prepares for her first ever marathon in memory of her lost baby girl Autumn. Jenni Moulson caught up with the Huddersfield mum to find out more.

Marie Titley is preparing to run her first ever marathon this year – almost a year to the day after losing her baby to a rare heart condition.

In April last year Marie and her partner Joe Horsfall were given the heartbreaking news that their unborn baby had not just one but five serious heart defects. The couple first realised something was wrong when they went for their routine 12-week scan.

“The staff went very quiet and we were taken into a side room and told that we would have to go for more tests in Leeds,” recalls Marie. “It felt as if my world had stopped turning. I can remember sitting there listening to other families coming in for scans and thinking how lucky they were to be going home knowing that everything was OK.” At 20 weeks specialists at Leeds General Infirmary carried out a detailed scan of the baby’s heart.

Marie and Joe were told that their unborn daughter had five heart defects, some of which were extremely rare.

“We were told that I was effectively the life support machine helping her pump blood around her body and that without me she couldn’t survive,” says Marie.

“I was in such a daze that I couldn’t really concentrate on what the doctors were telling us.” Autumn Scarlett Horsfall died on April 25 at 22 weeks of pregnancy and the weeks that followed passed in a blur. Marie says their two-year-old son Jacob was the one thing that kept her going as she struggled to come to terms with the loss of her baby.

“Having Jacob to take care of helped me get up each morning,” she remembers.

“We organised a beautiful funeral service for Autumn and she’s buried within easy reach of our home in Shelley so we have a place to go where we can think about her,” says Marie.

After losing Autumn, Marie decided she wanted to do something that would give hope to other parents in similar situations and improve the lives of children born with heart defects and their families.

“I wanted to do the biggest thing possible and I remembered that one of the doctors we saw at Leeds General Infirmary said she had run the London Marathon the day before,” says Marie.

“I had been so impressed that she’d come into work the day after and suddenly I knew that was what I wanted to aim for.”

Marie applied to run the London Marathon with the British Heart Foundation and was accepted.

“I don’t think I actually expected to be given a place because I know how hard it is to get in but I was delighted. The only race I’ve ever run before is the Race for Life so this will be a huge challenge for me.”

Marie, who works as an energy solutions manager at Orchard Energy in Elland, has a rigorous training plan in place and a goal to raise as much money as she can for research into children’s heart defects and funding that will lead to earlier diagnosis and better treatment.

“I know April will be a very emotional time for us so I’m glad we’ll be doing something positive – for Autumn and for other children and their families whose lives have been affected by heart problems.”

Helping to battle heart disease

Marie Titley is running the London Marathon 2014 to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

The British Heart Foundation is the nation’s heart charity. Every day they save lives, through pioneering research, providing vital information to help people reduce their own heart health risks, campaigning for change and supporting and caring for heart patients.

“I‘m running the London Marathon for British Heart Foundation because they do amazing work to save lives,” says Marie who hopes to raise £2,000.

Marie’s fundraising page is at justgiving.com/marie-titley