Catherine’s marathon effort in teenage daughter’s memory

2 min read

A grieving Kent mum whose teenage daughter died six months ago is taking on the Norfolk Marathon this Sunday (28th April) to raise money in her memory.

Catherine O’Connor’s “special” daughter, Ellie Watts, was diagnosed with a grade 1 astrocytoma and found to be suffering from hydrocephalus in August 2022.

Ellie, a University of Greenwich criminology and criminal justice undergraduate, underwent surgery and remained stable for 14 months before showing further signs of hydrocephalus.

Sadly, she suffered a cardiac arrest and, despite being revived and undergoing further surgery, she died in October 2023, aged 19.

Catherine, who is a watch manager in the London Ambulance Service’s emergency operations centre, said: “We were told Ellie’s brain hadn’t responded to surgery how they would have liked. A scan the following morning revealed her brain stem had been pushed into her spine.

“We were told the damage was catastrophic and the only thing keeping her alive was her life-support. She was on the donor list, so kept alive until the following day.”

She added: “Ellie was pretty special. She was full of fun and just the most amazing person to be around. She cared about everybody and was really kind. Her death is a massive loss but she will live on, not just in those people to whom she donated organs but in all those who knew and loved her.”

Catherine, who used to attend bootcamp exercise classes with Ellie, will be running the Norfolk Marathon in aid of Brain Tumour Research this weekend as a tribute to her daughter.

She said: “I’ve never run more than a 10k but I thought training for a marathon would give me something to focus on because I do miss Ellie terribly.”

A much-loved page set up following Ellie’s death raised more than £3,000, which is enough to sponsor a day of research at one of our four Centres of Excellence.

“We’re proud to have done that in Ellie’s name and would love to be able to fund more days through my marathon fundraising,” said Catherine.

To support Catherine’s fundraising, visit

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