Mum to run in memory of her son

Anne Yendell and meet and greet dog Jenson
Anne Yendell and meet and greet dog Jenson

An aspiring firefighter who died of swine flu will be remembered as his mum raises thousands for a life-changing dog in his name.

Anne Yendell, the fundraising director for Heyshott-based charity Canine Partners, is flying to New York this week to take part in the New York Marathon to raise money in memory of her son.

Anne Yendell with her children Olly and Alice

Anne Yendell with her children Olly and Alice

Aspiring firefighter Olly Gellett and his mum Anne Yendell decided four years ago that they would one day fly the 3,441 miles to the United States to take part in the New York Marathon and raise cash to help others.

But in March Olly suddenly died of swine flu. The 22-year-old lifeguard and keen amateur sports player fell ill on Mother’s Day with what he thought was a heavy cold. The otherwise healthy youngster, who volunteered with the Portsmouth and Southsea Voluntary Lifeguards, put up with the illness and even continued going to work at Michael Kors luxury accessories shop in Gunwharf Quays where he was a stock keeper. But four days later Anne found Olly unconscious at their Southsea home and despite their best efforts, paramedics were unable to revive him.

Anne will complete their dream marathon on her own as she marks what would have been his 23rd birthday.

Anne will run 26.2 miles through the streets of New York as she is cheered on by her daughter Alice, 26, and thousands of onlookers.

Anne hopes her feat will raise enough money to provide a disabled person with a special life-changing assistance dog named after Olly. The puppy will be trained by charity Canine Partners to carry out a range of everyday tasks including opening doors, unloading washing machines and dressing and undressing a person. It will then go on to transform the life of a disabled person who it will be paired with.

Anne, who works at the charity, chose the cause to reflect Olly’s love of helping people. The former South Downs College outdoor activities student spent his free time helping to keep people safe in the Solent while also working on becoming a firefighter. He was close to reaching his ambition – days after he died the former Spingfield Schoolboy received an email inviting him to an interview at the fire station serving Southampton Airport in Eastleigh.

Now Anne, Alice, Anne’s brother Pete Yendell, Olly’s best friend Keiran Thorpe and his mum Sara Thorpe will pay their respects at the 9/11 Memorial Gardens on his birthday on November 4 – two days before the marathon.

Anne has smashed her initial fundraising target of £5,000. To support Anne with her fundraising challenge visit justgiving.com/fundraising/Anne-Yendell3.

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