Widow of former Swansea City apprentice Stephen Healey runs 415 miles in his memory
THE courageous widow of the 415th British soldier killed in Afghanistan has run 415 miles to raise money in his memory.
Former Swansea City apprentice footballer Captain Stephen Healey was described by his commanding officer as “one of the best of his generation” when he was killed by Taliban bomb.
Now his grieving widow Thea Davis, 30, has finished a year of runs after vowing to run 415 miles in his memory - across Britain and as far as Paris, Rome and Bermuda.
Brave Thea has raised more than £14,000 for a charity close to his heart.
Capt Healey, 29, was commanding his platoon in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, from a lead vehicle in Helmand when it ran over and detonated a roadside bomb in May 2012.
His legs were blown off below the knee and he died in a Chinook helicopter taking him to military hospital.
Thea said: "For the first couple of months after Steve died I didn't know what to do. I just moped around.
"I was expecting Steve home last October and had no plans except spending time with him.
"Eventually the padre who repatriated Steve took me to watch the Olympics - completely reluctantly at the time.
"I already knew I wanted to do some sort of fundraising for Steve's favourite charity, and I knew it had to have a symbolic significance.
"But it wasn't until I watched the Brownlees winning gold and bronze in the triathlon that the idea of running 415 miles came to me."
Capt Healey had raised money for Blind Veterans UK before he died because it supported soldiers who had lost their sight through explosions in Afghanistan.
And on Sunday physiotherapist Thea completed her year-long fundraising challenge by finishing the Chester Marathon.
It was in Chester that Thea and Capt Healey ran their first marathon together - just over six months before he would be tragically killed.
But over the past year Thea has now run over 20 marathons, half marathons, triathlons and 10k runs.
And at each race she wears Capt Healey's cross and name tag around her neck.
Thea said: "It was a way of having Steve close to me.
"When I'm slowing down, feeling tired and want to give up I touch the tags or hear them clinking and they inspire me to carry on.
"Steve was never one for just sitting around and neither am I.
"The support I have received throughout has been phenomenal. I have had someone running every race with me, from army wives to Steve's company commander.
"Steve got me through as well as all those who were supporting me and I cannot thank them all enough for the love and support they have shown me through the past year.
"When I crossed the line on Sunday I was an emotional wreck.
"Nothing I can do can bring him home but I am trying to bring something positive from it all."
Blind Veterans UK helps blind veterans lead independent and fulfilling lives by giving them much-needed support to adjust to sight loss, overcome the challenges of blindness and enjoy daily life.
Chief executive Robert Leader said Thea's support has been an inspiration.
He said: "At a time of enormous personal tragedy for her she chose to take up Stephen's mantle and continue the amazing work that he had done to support ex-servicemen and women, blinded both in action and later life.
"We owe both her and Stephen a huge debt of gratitude and what they have done for our people will never be forgotten".
Thea, who was accompanied to each race by her mascot made out of Capt Healey's old socks, has been training so hard for the year-long challenge she has decided to enter an Ironman competition in New Zealand next year.
She said: "I’ve been to some wonderful places along the way, and I just wish Steve could have seen those with me but I know he’s been there in spirit.
"I had to channel my grief and focusing on running and doing this challenge has helped.
"I never thought I would be where I am now when I heard the news Steve had been killed.
"There was no light at the end of the tunnel then - but now there is light.
"Life has got to carry on."
You can donate to Blind Veteran UK at http://www.justgiving.com/415miles
The Royal Parks Half Marathon - 7 October 2012 The Cardiff Half Marathon - 14 October 2012 The Salisbury Half Marathon - 28 October 2012 The Conwy Half Marathon - 18 November 2012 The Bermuda Triangle Challenge - 18 - 20 January 2013 (Consists of a 1 mile run on the Friday a 10km on the Saturday and Full Marathon on the Sunday) The Brighton Half Marathon - 17 February 2013 The Bath Half Marathon - 3 March 2013 The Rome Marathon - 17 March 2013 The Paris Marathon - 7 April 2013 The Brighton Marathon - 14 April 2013 The Virgin London Marathon - 21 April 2013 The Manchester Marathon - 28th April 2013 The Belfast Marathon - 6 May 2013 The Chester Half Marathon - 12 May 2013 The Wales Marathon - 14 July 2013 North Wales Half Marathon - 4 August 2013 Salisbury 54321 50km Ultra Marathon - 11 August 2013 (31mile run) The Great North Run - 15 September 2013 The Loch Ness Marathon - 29 September 2013 The Chester Marathon - 6 October 2013