Aylsham teacher’s marathon effort will be inspired by her big brother

An Aylsham teacher will be thinking about her big brother when she strikes out on the London Marathon next month.

Vicky Mash is hoping her effort will boost Mencap's coffers by �2,000-�2,500 and help raise the profile of a charity which has helped people like her brother Simon, 29, who has Down's Syndrome.

Mr Mash is now living independently with a Down's Syndrome friend in a house off Norwich's Dereham Road and has a part-time job as a cleaner at Rowan House in Buxton.

Miss Mash, 27, said it was because of the work of charities which helped people with learning difficulties, such as the Norwich-based Assist Trust and Mencap, that her brother was able to live a normal and fulfilling life.

'It's a real eye-opener seeing what, with the right support, Simon and his friends can achieve. He has a better social life than I do!' she said.

'Mencap has spent years fighting for people like Simon to be heard. They don't just class everyone as 'people with learning difficulties'. They treat everyone as individuals with a voice to be heard.'

Mr Mash is a former pupil of Sheringham Primary School and Sidestrand Hall School and later went to college in King's Lynn.

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Miss Mash is already well on her way to her target thanks to the support of pupils and fellow staff at Aylsham High School.

She expects to be able to add about �1,500 to her collection as a result of fundraising activities at the school, including a mufti day during which many pupils paid extra to have 'unofficial school photos' taken with friends. Funds were also raised with a teachers' arm-wrestling contest which saw staff dress up to take part, including head teacher Duncan Spalding who transformed himself into agent 007, James Bond.

The school is also planning to raise more cash for Miss Mash with a talent show on April 1. 'They are all behind me 100pc,' she said.

Miss Mash, of Hanover Road, Norwich, has a condition called hypermobility in her feet causing trapped nerves and said it meant she would only be able to run one marathon. She had set her heart on making that race Britain's biggest, the London.

A keen cyclist, Miss Mash used to bike the 15 miles to work in Aylsham each day but has now switched to running sessions in Norwich after school.

She has kept up her training regime despite breaking a wrist six weeks ago during a gym session.

Anyone who would like to sponsor her can do so via: www.justgiving.com/vickymash