Marathon Mum Jo to raise money for 'life-changing' Spectrum Project

A Nailsea mum is preparing to tackle the Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday, September 17 to raise money for the Foundation’s Spectrum Project, which she credits with ‘changing her son’s life’.

Jo Hughes (pictured, top right) - whose son, Charlie has high-functioning autism – will take on the 13.1-mile challenge in just under two weeks time, where she hopes to raise £500 for the programme.

“When Charlie was in Year 10, I had to find a suitable work experience placement for him. I thought I had secured him a good place to go, until they contacted me at very short notice to say that they didn't feel they could support his needs,” explains Jo.

“This had a huge negative impact upon me, making me fear that this was how it was going to be - people marginalising my son due to his autism. In fear and desperation I sat up all night sending out emails to any company or organisation I could think of, asking for help and asking for work experience.

“Kris got back to me the very next morning and his is ‘can do’ attitude was so overwhelming. Kris offered Charlie work experience at home matches as part of The Spectrum Project, alongside other young people with additional needs, as well as a full week supporting Kris in the work he takes into local special schools.

“Charlie's first matchday session fell on Mother’s Day – March 6, 2016 - what a Mother’s Day present. I was so proud to see Charlie there in a Bristol Rugby top, handing out flags at the Fan Zone. He was also bursting with pride and Charlie has been there ever since.

“I am so grateful to the Spectrum Project. Charlie loves being part of this and the fact that he is at rugby with other young people and not his mother. It makes him feel independent and like an adult.”

Jo’s running journey began in January as an attempt to overcome insomnia – but fast forward nine months and she’s all set for her biggest challenge yet.

“I was only running about two miles at the most, but gradually built up my fitness level and was running further and further.

“By April, I was loving it so much that I decided to sign up for the Bristol Half Marathon. Not only did I want to challenge myself but thought it would be a perfect opportunity to raise the profile and some funds for The Spectrum Project, to help them to continue the fantastic work they are doing.”

“I am so grateful to the Spectrum Project. Charlie loves being part of this and the fact that he is at rugby with other young people and not his mother. It makes him feel independent and like an adult.”

Jo Hughes

Bristol Sport Foundation and The Spectrum Project are proud of Jo and hugely grateful for the money she has raised – and her son Charlie is delighted that the money raised will help other young people, in the way it has helped him.

"I am proud of what my mum is doing and she will complete the 13 miles as she has been working really hard and has the support of her family and Kris,” he said.

“It makes me happy that the money she raises will help other children whose autism has a greater impact upon them than mine.

“I hope to continue to do work experience with the project for a long time. It has given me a new insight into a side of life that I hadn't experienced before."

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