Marathon run marks a new beginning for Purple Butterfly Appeal fundraiser

A nurse who took up running to help her deal with a recent diagnosis of autism is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity by running the London Marathon in 2018.

Wednesday, 6th September 2017, 10:40 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:21 pm

Joanne Clough, of Bramley in Rotherham, started running just six months ago after a life-changing diagnosis of high-functioning autism, which is also often known as Asperger’s syndrome.

The 39-year-old, a specialist stroke nurse for The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, hopes the challenge will help her raise more than £2,000 for the charity’s Purple Butterfly Appeal in memory of her mum, Linda Pritchard. Linda sadly died five years ago, aged 66, after battling multiple sclerosis. She was a nurse in coronary care at Rotherham Hospital for more than 30 years.

Joanne said: “After I was diagnosed with autism, I wanted to do something positive to show that my recent diagnosis marks a new beginning and not something that would label me and make my life worse.

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“I wanted to use the diagnosis to my advantage rather than see it as a hindrance. Having high-functioning autism makes me a really focused and determined person and I wanted to harness that energy and use it for something good.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to raise awareness about autism and to inspire people who may be worried their condition will hold them back. I’m really proud to say I’m a nurse for the fantastic stroke team at Rotherham Hospital.”

The London Marathon is one of the top six international marathons in the world and takes place on 22 April 2018. Runners begin the 26.2-mile route in Greenwich before heading past iconic sights such as Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace before heading to the finish line on The Mall.

Joanne is a member of the Rotherham Harriers and Athletics Club and trains four times a week. She has already taken part in the London Vitality 10K, raising £450 for the National Autistic Society, and the Brinsworth 10K for Weston Park Cancer Hospital Charity.

Joanne, who also has a nine-year-old daughter with autism, will be raising money to help the charity install a fourth Purple Butterfly room at Rotherham Hospital. The £75,000 purpose-built rooms offer privacy and dignity to patients nearing the end of their lives, and their families.

The money goes towards funding all the building works, a specialist bed, medical equipment, painting and furnishings and a waiting room with a television, fridge, microwave and a kettle.

Joanne added: “My family, friends and colleagues are really supportive of my efforts to run the marathon because they know the Purple Butterfly rooms are such an asset to Rotherham Hospital. It’s reassuring to know the town has such good quality facilities for people nearing the end of their lives, and their families, when time is really precious.

“I know my family would definitely have benefitted from a home-from-home facility like the Purple Butterfly room when my mum died.

“I’m really excited about taking part in the marathon. I think the atmosphere will be really uplifting and doing it to honour my mum and for a charity I really believe in I think will be a life changing experience. It will also be my 40th birthday in 2018, so I’m excited for the challenges the year ahead will bring.”

Joanne will be hosting a charity quiz night at the Ravenfield Arms in Rotherham on Saturday 21 October to help her reach her fundraising target. You can also support Joanne by donating online

Gabby Atmarow, Chair of the Charitable Funds Committee, said: “Taking on a sponsored challenge like the London Marathon can be an exciting and life-changing experience, as well as a great way to raise money for charity. We’re incredibly proud of Joanne for her dedication and enthusiasm for the event – she really is an inspiration.

“I hope as many people as possible, whether they are her colleagues, friends, family or members of the public support her fundraising efforts and help us introduce another Purple Butterfly room at Rotherham Hospital.”

For more information about the Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity please contact Suzanne Rutter on 01709 426821 or via [email protected] Alternatively, visit