Emotional scenes as stroke survivor bravely walks with his wife across the finish line for her 100th parkrun
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
It was just a few steps - but for stroke survivor Richard Boyce, walking over the finish line with his beloved wife for her 100th parkrun was an emotional leap forward that beat any long-distance feat.
In an event where runners push themselves to the limit, Richard's amazing effort in standing up from his wheelchair to walk with wife Lou - four months on from a devastating stroke, aged just 49 - was, easily, the biggest achievement of the day.
It was day Lou had always dreamt of, but at one stage thought she might not see.
Four months ago, life was turned upside down for the popular Hethersett family as Richard suffered a stroke at home while his wife was at Norwich's Take That concert.
MORE: 'Every day is a little better than the day before' – how Sprowston headteacher is fighting back from stroke aged just 49It was followed by another one as he was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge for emergency surgery and has now left him having to learn how to walk again.
But not prepared to let the stroke beat them and determined he will make a full recovery, his family and four children have bravely rallied round to support and care for him.
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And in a response which the Boyces believe has shown the 'best of humanity', the wider community has also come to their aid.
Never was that more clear than at Saturday's Eaton Parkrun, where hundreds of the family's friends gathered to cheer Lou around the course as she completed her 100th event.
They enthusiastically clapped and cheered when, as she neared the end, she pushed Richard's wheelchair towards the finish line and helped him up to walk with him a few yards.
It was, Richard said, a physical test that was 'hard and overwhelming' - but his effort was met with joy, pride and plenty of tears from spectators and fellow runners as they hugged and greeted the couple at the finish.
'My aim was always that Richard was able to walk across the line,' said Lou, who has raised more than £6,000 for the Stroke Association through the event.
'I'd sort of dreamt about it. When he was in Addenbrooke's, I thought when that day comes when I get to my 100th, I want us to walk across the line together - and we did.'
She said the community response and turnout on the day was 'totally overwhelming', adding: 'I tried to guess that there might 30 or 40 extra people but I had no idea how many were here. Just amazing.
'I think that stroke is far more common than anyone knows, usually because it affects older people. Maybe it doesn't get the publicity that it should because there are a lot of people who've had strokes and it's so debilitating.
'It's devastating. But the good thing is, it doesn't get worse.'
Richard added: 'Before this happened I didn't know anything about stroke.
'Strokes happened to people in their 70s and 80s - they never happened to people my age. It's been a steep learning curve.
'I'm very proud of my wife, her achievement and her fundraising.
'It's just very humbling and I'm very grateful for everyone's support and all the people who turned out.'
George Burroughs, fundraising manager for the Stroke Association in the East of England, said the parkrun was 'just absolutely overwhelming and inspiring'.
He added: 'There was such an outpouring of love and support for Richard, Lou and the family - and that's so essential when it comes to people who've had strokes.
'What Lou has done is to raise an amazing amount of awareness of strokes, as well as raising money.
'I don't think I've ever seen so much support for one family.'
And determined to keep on the road to recovery, Richard said: 'Maybe next year we'll run it together.'
Anyone wishing to donate should visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lou-boyce