FORMER Chase Technology College student Ava Merrell completed 26.2 miles around the Malvern Hills in memory of good friend and fellow school pupil, Ed Lowe, who died back in August 2020.

Ava, 23, was raising money and awareness for ‘Shallow Water Blackout Prevention’, which was the condition Ed died of back in August 2020 when swimming in a thermal pool while backpacking in Australia. 

She managed to raise over £4,000 for the charity and hopes she can help people to understand more about Shallow Water Blackout.

SWB is an underwater faint due to lack of oxygen to the brain brought on by holding your breath for long periods of time.

Ava admits it was something she had never heard of until Ed’s death but insists it was a motivating factor for her to raise awareness and do something in Ed’s name.

“It’s so rare and unknown, I had never heard of it before,” she said.

“Everyone I have spoken to said they had never heard of it before and that scares me so much because the idea of anyone going through that pain again for something so pointless is so alarming.

“I wanted to do something that would really push myself because that was the kind of guy Ed was.

“He was always pushing himself to do mad things without thinking.

“I have never met anyone quite like him - a big heart and so friendly.

“And that’s why I did it.”

The marathon, last Sunday, took Ava around the Malvern Hills in three circuits and despite some challenging moments and a lot of physical pain, she was determined to finish.

“I haven’t done any exercise as intense as that in a good few years,” she added.

“It was a massive challenge.

“I was taking these hydration gels and they made me really sick so from then on in I couldn’t eat anything or drink anything because it was all making me sick.

"I had a knee injury from a few years ago which decided to be a problem on the run and there were things telling me to stop but that was never an option.

“I was never going to quit, I’d worked so hard to get to that point.

“So many people came to support me along the way as well as friends and family.

“It was a very emotional day, in the nicest way.”

Ava believes that Ed's friendship and nature helped provide her with the confidence from a young age and eventually enabled her to complete such a gruelling challenge.

"We met at school and he sat next to me in science," said Ava.

"I was quite shy at the time and he always made an effort to talk to me and really brought me out my shell at a young age and then he really helped me with music and there was a real part of my confidence that I now have that's down to him.

"That essentially is what gave me the confidence to do this marathon for him.

"He has given me this lasting gift to make the most of everything, especially in difficult time, relish the chances and the opportunities you get.

"He had this energy and vitality for doing things that so many people don't ever find."

If you wish to continue to donate further, head over to Ava's JustGiving page (click here).