Hethel mum’s amazing life journey from Aviva director to Boudica

A Norfolk mum is about to complete a remarkable life journey from boardroom executive to Boudica.

Former Aviva finance director Helen Salmon only took up running in 2005 to help her recovery from the chronic fatigue disorder ME.

Seven years on, she is preparing to following in the footsteps of legendary warrior queen Boudica - and run all 36 miles of the Boudica Way footpath from Diss to Norwich.

Dressed for the part, carrying a sword and with her hair dyed a suitable Celtic shade of red, she hopes other runners will join her on sections of the route and help her reach her �6,000 sponsorship target.

Helen, 47, who quit her job as a high-flying accountant and retrained as a counsellor is raising money for two charities with whom she is involved, Cruse Bereavement Care and regionally-based 4C's Counselling.

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Supporters are invited to make a �20 donation to join her on a five or six mile section of the mainly off-road route during the run on Sunday, November 4. For a �3 donation, she is appealing for families to join her at Whitlingham Country Park for the last mile.

Helen, of Wymondham Road, Hethel, said: 'It would be nice for children to complete the run in memory of someone.'

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Confessing to being a 'driven personality', her career appeared to be moving inexorably upwards after she finished her training as a chartered accountant with Ernst and Young.

She said: 'When I joined Aviva two promotions quickly followed and I rose to become a director of finance. I was loving it but after I had my daughter Holly my body just collapsed on me.

'Before, I had given everything to work and it meant everything, but having a child threw that completely out of balance.

'I was very poorly for two years during which time Aviva was amazing. I had a two-year programme to get back to work but I could never get back on that career path.'

Helen decided to study for a degree in counselling and now works as a counsellor helping people cope with bereavement, depression, suicidal tendencies and low self-esteem, sometimes leading to self-harming.

She said: 'I love the fact I have changed and I love seeing people going on their life journey. It is such a privilege to be able to talk to people about their darkest fears because people don't share that with anyone else.'

Falling in love with running after her first event, the May 2005 Race for Life in Norwich - 'I had only run for 15 minutes until then' - she confesses she was hooked for life from that moment on.

'These days I get so much joy out of finding a new footpath or how the trees are looking,' she said.

Helen, who will be supported along the route by her husband Paul, 42, will set off from Diss train station at 7am and finish at Whitlingham outdoor education centre at about 2.30pm.

For details on how to get involved, visit www.boudiccarun.org.uk

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