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Cafe team running Great North Run for causes close to their hearts

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The team from Jean's Kitchen in Middlesbrough's Dundas Indoor Market

Four members of staff at one of Middlesbrough’s most popular cafes are taking part in this weekend’s Great North Run to raise money for causes close to all of their hearts.

Louise Matthews, the manager of Jean’s Kitchen in the Dundas Indoor Market, has already run three Great North Runs and two London Marathons and Gemma Brighty completed a half-marathon in Liverpool last year.

But the others – Rachel Andrews and Ashley Shea – are running novices who only started training after Christmas. All four are ready to put themselves through the pain barrier to raise money for the wards at the James Cook University Hospital which have treated their loved ones.

Rachel’s dad is an out-patient at the Cancer Day Unit and her sister is also receiving care there after just having an operation. “That ward is brilliant. They look after people from all over with different types of cancer,” said Rachel. “I used to go to support Louise when she was taking part. She asked me to do the Great North Run and when my dad got poorly I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Ashley’s stepdad is also receiving support from the Day Unit following two years of cancer treatment. Gemma is running on behalf of the Motor Neuron Disease Care Centre in tribute to her grandad who died from the disease.

“Every department at James Cook is fantastic. They need more praise than they get and we just want to help in any little way we can,” said Louise who is raising money for Aneurysm Research. Her dad had a triple heart by-pass operation and was treated for an aneurysm at the hospital’s Vascular Surgery Ward. He is now well and back at work.

The women – who are aged between 30 and 41 – have been training three times a week and have just completed an 11-mile run to prepare for the big day.

Louise is proud of her friends. “They’ve trained properly. They started off just walking and running a couple of miles and upped it each month. We’ve gone out together and helped each other. It’s been really good.”

Louise said she hated running at school but four years ago joined a running group in Guisborough: “I started to see what it was like – and I never stopped. When you’ve been at work all day you just need to get out and pound the pavements. It just makes you feel better in yourself.”

Jean’s Kitchen is one of the longest-serving businesses in the Dundas Indoor Market and prides itself on providing home cooked traditional family food.

“There is so much support for them from their customers and all the other traders here at Dundas,” said the market manager David Harris.

“What they’re doing is absolutely fantastic and everybody wishes them well with their run and their fund-raising.”

Between them the quartet hope to raise more than £2000.