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Sweet success for brain injury survivor Dudley Garner, who has won an award for helping others get into running

PUBLISHED: 15:39 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:39 14 September 2017

Dudley Garner, left, and Paul Pickard at the awards' presentation. Mr Garner won a 'run group leader of the year' award for the eastern region for his 'couch to 5k' running group. Picture: Mick Shortland

Dudley Garner, left, and Paul Pickard at the awards' presentation. Mr Garner won a 'run group leader of the year' award for the eastern region for his 'couch to 5k' running group. Picture: Mick Shortland

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It has been eight years since Dudley Garner's life changed forever when he was hit by a car while walking home in Norwich.

Mr Garner, 35, from Shotesham All Saints, suffered injuries to his skull and neck and permanent brain damage, which sent him into a downwards spiral of depression, anxiety, alcohol, cigarettes and suicidal thoughts.

But Mr Garner found his salvation in a pair of trainers, and took up running for fun and fitness in 2013.

Since then he has twice completed the London Marathon and raised thousands for the brain injury charity Headway.

And over the past year he has been helping others lead a more active life as a run leader, in charge of an Up The Tempo ‘Couch To 5k’ running group, which takes place at Eaton Park.

From left, Gillian Quinton, Elizabeth (no surname given), Dudley Garner (run leader), Lawrence Wade (run leader) and Diana Postle at the awards' presentation. Mr Garner won a 'run group leader of the year' award for the eastern region for his 'couch to 5k' running group. Picture: Mick ShortlandFrom left, Gillian Quinton, Elizabeth (no surname given), Dudley Garner (run leader), Lawrence Wade (run leader) and Diana Postle at the awards' presentation. Mr Garner won a 'run group leader of the year' award for the eastern region for his 'couch to 5k' running group. Picture: Mick Shortland

And now Mr Garner’s efforts have found the recognition they deserve.

The father-of-two has been presented with a ‘run group leader of the year’ award from England Athletics, which has put him in contention for a national award.

MORE: Cringleford man defies brain injury to run for charity

After being given the honour at a ceremony in Bedford, Mr Garner said: “The award came as a total shock but also a massive confidence boost that people are benefitting from what I’m doing.

“I have a brain injury and associated mental health problems and to have something so wonderfully positive is priceless for me.”

Dudley Garner, following his injury in 2009. Picture: Courtesy Dudley GarnerDudley Garner, following his injury in 2009. Picture: Courtesy Dudley Garner

Mr Garner, who also has problems with his memory, said the award would also help remind him that he had something positive to offer.

He said just being nominated for the award had encouraged him to do more coaching, and he now hoped to become a ‘running for wellbeing’ trainer to help others benefit from the sport as he has.

Mr Garner said 38 people had taken part in his running groups over the past year.

Three of his running trainees, Gillian Quinton, Gail Barnard and Diana Postle, said of him: “We’re all abilities and ages, overcoming personal barriers. He’s turned non-runners into confident budding runners with endless possibilities.

Dudley Garner, training for the London Marathon in 2016.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYDudley Garner, training for the London Marathon in 2016. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“He motivates, showing empathy, encouragement and praise.”

To find out more about the groups or to sign up, visit groups.runtogether.co.uk/upthetempo/Runs

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