April 6, 2023 9.00 am This story is over 14 months old

Lincolnshire mum taking on London Marathon in memory of husband

Raising money for the British Heart Foundation

A Grantham mum is running the London Marathon later this month in memory of her husband who died 10 years ago.

Elita Cozens, 54, is running the 2023 TCS London Marathon for the British Heart Foundation on Sunday, April 23.

Her husband Simon sadly died from a cardiac arrest whilst out on a walk on Easter weekend in 2013 at the age of just 48.

Police officers told the family two walkers had seen Simon collapse and they administered CPR, but sadly nothing could be done to save him.

Elita will be thinking of her husband as she runs the marathon in his memory later this month – donate to her fundraiser here.

Elita, who grew up in Belize in Central America, said: “It’s been 10 years since Simon died and it’s only now I can talk about it without getting too distressed.

“We’d gone to visit his parents in Llanbedr, north Wales. Simon decided to go for a walk in the morning. But when he hadn’t come home by the afternoon, we started to get worried.

“I tried to call him, but he wasn’t answering, I thought perhaps he’d lost signal. His dad went out in the car to see if he could spot him, but to no avail. When we got that dreaded knock on the door from the police at 5pm, we knew it wasn’t good news.

“I just couldn’t understand. He went for a walk but never came back. We later found out in his post-mortem that he had a heart attack. He looked so healthy on the surface, but underneath there was a ticking timebomb – a hidden killer.”

Simon 24 hours before he sadly passed away. | Photo: British Heart Foundation

Simon was born with coarctation of the aorta. He had surgery to repair this when he was just five-years-old. He had a second surgery to repair a hole in his heart when he was seven.

He didn’t see a cardiologist again until the couple had their daughter Alexandra in February 1996.

Simon and his daughter Alexandra walking in the snow. | Photo: British Heart Foundation

Alexandra, now 27, was born with a small hole in her heart and developed Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome in her teens, which caused her heart to beat abnormally. Alexandra needed surgery to prevent these abnormalities from developing into atrial fibrillation.

Elita said: “We were taking Alexandra to her yearly check-ups when her cardiologist suggested Simon also be looked up and made a referral to his GP in 2011.

“After he was seen by a consultant, they said they couldn’t believe he was still alive and that he was a walking, living miracle. They could see he had narrowing in one of the arteries from the heart to the brain and he’d need two surgeries to correct this.”

Simon’s first surgery took place in October 2012, with his second scheduled for May the following year. Tragically, Simon passed away just a month before he was due to have follow-up surgery.

Elita Cozens and her husband Simon on their wedding day. | Photo: British Heart Foundation

Elita added: “I’m so passionate about raising as much as I can for the BHF. While I wish there was more that could have been done for Simon, there’s so much research the BHF is funding that makes a huge difference to people’s lives.

“The level of distress and trauma on myself and Alexandra from Simon’s death is huge, but I would like to see research continue so other families don’t have to experience what we did. If I can give just one family that opportunity to have more time with their loved ones, it’s worth it.”

Elita and Simon spending time together. | Photo: British Heart Foundation

Karen McDonnell, Senior Events Manager at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “We never fail to be inspired by the incredible stories of our supporters, and Elita is no exception.

“With around 7.6 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK, every single step our runners take will help power science to find new cures and treatments to save and improve more lives. We’re extremely grateful for Elita’s support and can’t wait to cheer her over the finish line.”

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