Skinflats woman near end of 200-mile challenge in memory of brother who died from sepsis

A Falkirk district woman is close to completing a 200-mile challenge to mark the 20th anniversary of her brother’s death.

Diane Harkins, 39, set herself the goal of walking and running the mammoth distance during the month of February in memory of younger sibling, Jamie, who died from sepsis aged ten.

She has 22 miles to go and hopes her gruelling efforts will help to raise awareness of the illness and generate cash for The UK Sepsis Trust.

Ms Harkins, who lives in Skinflats, has already succeeded in completing the latter of those aims as her fundraising page has smashed past its £200 target and collected more than £3500.

Diane Harkins is aiming to cover 200 miles in February for UK Sepsis Trust in memory of her younger brother Jamie who died aged ten. Picture: Michael Gillen.

In a touching tribute to her football-daft brother, the former Falkirk Ladies player devised a plan which has seen her stroll and jog past places that mean a lot to her family, including Jamie’s school – Bainsford Primary – the houses he stayed in and his favourite pitches.

Ms Harkins, who once ran for Falkirk Victoria Harriers, is aiming to finish her challenge at his graveside in Camelon on Friday.

The support she’s received from friends and family – particularly mum Catherine – has been a constant source of motivation.

Diane has walked and run various routes across Falkirk district, including paths at The Kelpies, in her bid to clock up 200 miles in support of UK Sepsis Trust. Picture: Michael Gillen.

As well as honouring Jamie, Ms Harkins revealed her fundraising mission is also dedicated to her mum.

She said: “I know when she lost Jamie, she lost a part of herself.

“She struggled, she grieved, but in time she found strength to keep going with support from family and friends.

“When he died, the doctors all just thought it was a bug. It's gone from something I thought of doing for Jamie and sepsis awareness to something that's grown arms and legs.

Skinflats resident Diane Harkins with brother Jamie. Contributed.

“Jamie was a grumpy little so and so sometimes! My mum used to say I should've been a boy and he should've been a girl because he was too sensitive.

“He loved Celtic. I'm so thankful he managed to get to a game. He went to a Champions League game and came back absolutely buzzing.

“I had been thinking about his anniversary and I wanted to do something for him. It came from nowhere.

“I'd been on the Sepsis UK website and they were doing winter challenges such as 5ks, and I wanted to really challenge myself.

“At first I thought of doing 100 miles. Then I thought I’d go for 200.

“I'm not sure if it was because it was his 20th anniversary. It needs to be a challenge, something like this.

“To be honest, I didn't realise how much I was doing until everybody said ‘that's quite a lot!’”

As someone who works from home as a health adviser, finding the time to get out for walks and runs during lockdown has proved a challenge in itself.

However, Ms Harkins has been touched by the backing she’s had.

She explained: “I've got absolutely amazing support. I've had friends coming out walking with me – but not on runs!

“I quite like running on my own. I just put my music on.

“I'm overwhelmed with the whole support. I had my target set for £200 and I can't believe it's over £3500.”

Click here to donate.

Sepsis is the body's extreme response to an infection and can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Visit sepsistrust.org.

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