A HOSPITALITY manager who lives and works in Malham has started fundraising for her third London marathon.

Linda Snowden, 56, manager at Beck Hall hotel and restaurant, in Malham, aims to raise £1,800 for Cardiomyopathy UK and spread awareness of the heart condition that led to the untimely death of her late husband, and affects her daughter and young grandson.

In 1996, Linda ran her first marathon, raising funds for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) following the death of a close friend who suffered a fatal heart attack aged just 30 years old.

“Little did I realise that the British Heart Foundation would become so close to my personal cause as in 1999 my late husband Robert died from sudden cardiac death at the age of 41,” said Linda.

Linda was left to raise their two young children, Ryan and Olletta, aged just eight and six years old.

She added: “Since Robert died, his brother and quite a few of his nephews got tested and around three members of the family, all down the male line, came back positive for dilated cardiomyopathy”.

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition where the heart chambers become enlarged which effects its ability to pump. The left ventricle of the heart becomes dilated and the muscle wall becomes thinner. This gives the heart a more rounded shape, rather than the normal cone shape.

It is thought that around 30 per cent of DCM has a genetic cause. Where it is genetic, a child of an affected parent will have a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the gene mutation. More rarely, it can be a mutation on the X (female sex) chromosome.

It is recommended that children, siblings and parents of the person with DCM are also screened.

If diagnosed, treatment for DCM is available which can control symptoms, reduce complications and lead to improvements in the condition.

The lack of awareness of the condition spurred Linda to run her second marathon for the BHF, whilst juggling motherhood with her job as a “postie” for the Royal Mail.

“The kids met me at the finishing line, I wanted them to know what I’d done and the meaning behind it all,” recalls Linda.

Meanwhile, Ryan and Olletta were being tested annually for any signs of DCM, but it wasn’t until 16-year-old Olletta sought further testing – after her application to join the British Army was rejected on the grounds of her father’s heart condition - that DCM reared its head again.

“I’ll never forget that phone call,” said Linda. “We were sitting at breakfast having a cup of tea and the phone rang, it was the doctor asking Olletta to go in.

“We sat there, and the doctor was telling us ‘we’re sorry to say you’ve inherited your late father’s heart issues. You’ve got dilated cardiomyopathy.

“She was told she would never be able to have a baby and that she would always be under the hospital’s care. It was life changing”.

Olletta was prescribed a three-month course of ACE inhibitors and beta blockers, but she found the side effects devastating.

Against medical advice she stopped taking her medication and within days was back to her old self, stating she would rather have a better quality of life than a longer one.

Olletta didn’t stop there. She met her future husband, Chris, and they married four years later.

Again, against advice, they tried for a baby and against all odds, baby Lucas Robert, named after his grandad, was born weighing 4lb.

In spite of numerous, detailed scans of Lucas’s heart during pregnancy and no signs of DCM at birth, a routine test at five months old revealed heart failure caused by the condition, which is now being managed by medication and regular checks up at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Linda added: “Looking at Lucas melts my heart. Olletta is doing cracking and is an absolutely fabulous mum, she gets tired, but we all do.”

Linda will participate in her third London Marathon on Sunday, April 26. Anyone wishing to sponsor her can do so at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/linda-snowden1

The registered charity aims to improve the lives of the thousands of people living with cardiomyopathy and depends on donations to provide its vital services.

Furthermore, Beck Hall Malham will play host to an 80s fundraiser night with live entertainment on Friday March 27. Visit beckhallmalham.com for more details.