Brother and sister from Leeds to run London Marathon for dad living with muscular dystrophy

On Sunday 21 April, Abbie Newhall, 25, and Cris Newhall, 22, will join thousands of others as they take part in the TCS London Marathon. Inspired by their dad, Andy, who is living with Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), the siblings, who are originally from Leeds, are running in support of Muscular Dystrophy UK, the leading charity for people in the UK living with one of over 60 muscle wasting and weakening conditions.

This will be Abbie’s second London Marathon, having taken part in 2023, and she is looking forward to running with her younger brother, Cris this year. “It was an easy decision to re-enter for 2024 and fundraise for Muscular Dystrophy UK again,” said Abbie, who lives in London and works in marketing for Gordon Ramsay Restaurants alongside a dance career. “My dad has FSHD and my brother, Cris carries the mutated gene responsible for the condition, so I want to do whatever I can to raise awareness and funds for a charity that helps my family. Running alongside Cris is going to be one of the best days of my life and I can’t wait to cross the finish line with him.”

Abbie and Cris recall their dad, Andy, falling over a lot when they were younger. They used to joke about it, but when it started happening more frequently, he underwent some tests and was diagnosed with FSHD in 2020. Explaining how he felt about his dad’s diagnosis, Cris said: “Abbie and I found out about dad’s diagnosis a couple of months later, after he took some time to understand and accept the new reality of life he was going to have to lead. Of course, it was a shock, but the strength he has shown, coupled with his humour about the topic, is something I will forever be proud and admiring of.”

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As it is a genetic condition, Abbie and Cris were given a choice to undergo testing to see if they had inherited the gene responsible for the condition. “It was 50/50 for both of us,” said Cris. “Abbie came back all clear, I didn’t. It’s a funny feeling receiving news like that – you’re not sure how to feel. On the one hand you worry for things in your future and not knowing how long you’ll be able to do the things that you love, like sport, but on the other you feel you’re no different to when you didn’t know.”

Andy, Susie, Abbie and Cris Newhall (with dog, Murphy)Andy, Susie, Abbie and Cris Newhall (with dog, Murphy)
Andy, Susie, Abbie and Cris Newhall (with dog, Murphy)

Cris currently lives in Manchester and works at marketing agency, Offended, and says he doesn’t know to what extent the condition will affect him in life, but he is determined to keep feeling positive about the future. Running the London Marathon with his sister is one way of him doing this. “Sport is a huge part of my life and the thought of FSHD stopping me from being active is one of my biggest concerns. I know that there’s no cure for muscular dystrophy, but am hopeful that with ever-increasing funding and research, one day the breakthrough will come. That’s why Abbie and I are running the London Marathon for Muscular Dystrophy UK. They support lots of families like ours as well as funding ground-breaking research, and we want to help ensure their resources and support reach everyone who needs them.”

Abbie and Cris are hoping to raise £3,500 for Muscular Dystrophy UK by running the London Marathon. Follow their journey at

Find out more about Muscular Dystrophy UK at

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