AN ILKLEY man who was within an hour of losing his life after contracting meningitis is fighting back to fitness to run the inaugural Ilkley Half Marathon.

Stuart Hyde retired from policing five years ago but a year later suffered an attack of meningitis while delivering training to the police in Abu Dhabi.

Stuart, who is the chairman of the Clarke Foley Centre board and the voluntary enterprise adviser for Ilkley Grammar School, was in a coma for a week and was further hospitalised for three weeks until a medical transfer was arranged back to the UK, where he spent a further three weeks in St James’s Hospital in Leeds.

At the end of his stay, Stuart was unable to walk and had to undergo considerable physiotherapy in order to rebuild himself.

However, he has motivated himself to undertake far more physical training than he had before the illness and now wants to do something bigger.

He is entering the Ilkley Half Marathon and will run further than he has ever run in order to raise much needed support for the Meningitis Foundation.

Stuart said: “As a senior police officer, I have had to undertake many challenges; but this is into the unknown for me.

“But I understand the damage that meningitis can do to people and for some it is fatal. For those that recover, it can be a very long process and more research will help those who survive.

“That’s why I felt it was time to give a little back. Two years ago, I met the doctor who basically saved my life, and he told me that my story is still used in the medical training he delivers.

“It was a moment of great joy to thank him and his wonderful team.

“My family went through hell during the time I was in the coma not knowing if I would return or in what condition I would be in.

“They helped my recovery and I am lucky to have so many people close to me for that support and help.”

Stuart, who especially credits his wife Caroline for helping him through the traumatic experience, says while he may not look like a true runner, he is nearly ready.

He has been training with Liz Blizzard, from The Valley Clinic (official physiotherapy sponsors of the event) who is helping on a voluntary basis and the pair are posting details of their joint training runs. Others are encouraged to share the preparation journey and benefit from some training tips and advice.

Stuart added: “I thank Liz from The Valley Clinic for helping me prepare and guiding me to reach a goal I never thought I would achieve. I hope I can do justice to the cause. I hope people will feel moved, via Just Giving, to help me in my quest to reach my fund raising goal for this deserving charity.”

To donate online visit ing/stuarthalf