A schoolgirl who lost her dad following a brave battle with a serious illness is lacing up her trainers this weekend in his memory.
Matt Fryer died on Christmas Day last year after suffering from Crohn’s disease for a number of years.
Devoted dad Matt had been receiving treatment at St Mark’s Hospital in London for the inflammatory bowel disease when he suffered from gall stones and later an infected gall bladder.
He died after being diagnosed with sepsis, an infection of the blood.
Now, Matt’s brave daughter Eli-Jo House, 12, is set to take on this Saturday’s Junior Great North Run on Newcastle Quayside in his memory, while also raising money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
Eli-Jo’s mum Jenny, 42, of Horsley Hill in South Shields, told the Gazette: “It’s been such as a shock for Eli-Jo losing her dad so suddenly.
“Even though we weren’t together, we remained friends and he was a big part of her life.
“She does a lot of performing arts theatre and he managed to come to a lot of her shows despite being so unwell.
“He was in and out of hospital all of the time and it was awful to see him deteriorating because he was the life and soul of the party when he was well.”
Jenny explained how she heard that Matt had sadly passed away.
“Matt usually FaceTimed Eli-Jo on Christmas Day to see her opening her presents and when I didn’t I realised something was up,” she said.
“I found out he had died later that day and had to tell Eli-Jo on Boxing Day.
“It was so sad because Eli-Jo meant so much to him and he didn’t deserve it.”
Despite the devastating loss of her dad, Eli-Jo has vowed to take on this weekend’s 4k run to help the charity which supports those with Crohn’s.
Eli-Jo who goes to Harton Academy, will be taking part alongside cousins Molly Edgar, 10, and Maya Evans, 11, in aid of a prostate cancer charity after the trio’s grandfather James, 79, successfully battled the illness.
Eli-Jo’s godfather James Knox, 32, will also do the full Great North Run on Sunday.
“In four years we have raised over £2,000 for a prostate cancer charity in honour of my dad so this seemed like a good thing to do,” added Jenny.
“The girls have done the Junior Great North Run before so they are used to it by now and we just hope that they enjoy the day.
“Matt was always super proud of her anyway so I know he’ll be super proud of her doing this.
“She just wants to raise awareness because this is one of the worst illnesses to have and something that a lot of people don’t know about.
“Eli-Jo doesn’t want anybody to go through what she has.”
To donate towards the family’s fund-raising go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jennifer-house6?utm_id=124