A TEWKESBURY woman who suffered from meningitis as a young teenager will be running the London Marathon in April to raise money for the charity Meningitis Now.

Rebecca Woodward, aged 18, who lives in Tewkesbury and works as a waitress at the Gardeners Arms, in Beckford Road, hopes to raise £2,000 by completing the gruelling run which takes place on Sunday, April 23.

Miss Woodward was struck down with viral meningitis when she was 15 and was taken to Gloucestershire Hospital to be treated, at one stage ending up in intensive care.

She spent months recovering from the illness but luckily managed to go back to school and gain enough GCSE grades to earn her a place at Hartpury College.

Her recovery was helped by research undertaken by Meningitis Now, the charity she supports.

"If it wasn't for the work Meningitis Now has done, I might not have recovered," she said. "I now see it as my duty to help any other families or children who are affected by meningitis."

At the time of her illness, Miss Woodward played elite rugby and also did boxing training, which she says helped her overcome the illness more quickly and allowed her to come back fighting.

She still plays rugby, but since August last year has swapped her rugby boots for running shoes in order to train for the big race.

Miss Woodward says her family and friends have helped keep her focused and motivated.

"I have had so much support from my family and my boyfriend Edward. They have given me a lot of tough loving, making sure I get out and run even when I don’t feel like it, helping me to stay motivated to train as hard as I can," she said.

The Gardeners Arms has played its part in supporting Miss Woodward too, helping her raise sponsorship money for the marathon through a games evening and their regular monthly quiz nights.

Miss Woodward also puts some of her wages into the charity, working extra shifts plus donating all of her tip money.

She said: "The Gardeners has been a great support and, together with Goodfellas Barbershop, have helped me raise about £1,500 already."

Anyone who would like to sponsor Miss Woodward can log on to justgiving.com/Rebecca-Woodward4?utm_id=121.