Last October Melinda Greenacre could barely get out of bed following an operation to have four of her organs removed.

After being diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, an inherited genetic condition, which increases the risk of developing cancer, the inspirational mum-of-five made the decision to have risk reduction surgery which saw the removal of her uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

It was while she was recovering at home, Melinda, of Clydach, Swansea, set herself two goals. The first was to achieve her Third Dan Black Belt in Karate and the second was to take part in a large running event, something which was totally out of her comfort zone.

As soon as she was well enough, Melinda, 47, got back into fitness and set out to accomplish her personal targets. In May, she achieved her black belt in karate and in October, she successfully completed the Cardiff Half Marathon.

Melinda, who works in the DVLA (Driving License Vehicle Agency), said the chance to take part in the 13.1 mile event came about through work. This year, the Wales Air Ambulance has been chosen as the DVLA’s Charity of Choice and any fundraising events or money raised will go towards raising vital funds for the lifesaving Charity.

Melinda said: “When I saw the advert about spaces being available for the Cardiff Half Marathon on our internal website, I decided to put my name down. I sent off an email enquiring about a space, secretly hoping it would be refused, so when the email came back to say I had been successful, I think I was a bit shocked!

“Prior to having surgery, I started eating healthier and getting fitter in preparation for the operation. I initially started going out walking and then walking turned into running and I manged to get up to 5k. I began to enjoy it, which was why I set myself a goal to run a big race. I don’t think I ever imagined I would take part in a half marathon.

“I am very goal-orientated and with a bit of encouragement from my partner, Wayne, I decided to put everything into it. I downloaded a half marathon running app, which I followed religiously and started getting the miles in. I managed to build up to 10 miles and I even signed up to the Swansea Bay 10k.”

But unfortunately, just a few days before the 10k, Melinda tested positive for Covid-19 and she had to withdraw.

She said: “I was really looking forward to it as I thought it would have been good preparation for the Cardiff Half Marathon. I was disappointed, especially as I had put the training in. I didn’t run for a fortnight and the weekend before the half marathon I thought I had better attempt a run. I hardly managed any distance and I felt so awful I had to sit on a bench to catch my breath.

“I didn’t know what to do as so many people had sponsored me and I had been given a paid-for charity space from the Wales Air Ambulance. I felt as if I was going to let everybody down.

“Fortunately, as the week went on, I started feeling better. Although apprehensive, I was thankful I could attend, even if it meant having to walk the route.”

On Sunday 2 October, Melinda managed to successfully complete the Cardiff Half Marathon in 2 hours 44 minutes and raised £360 for the Wales Air Ambulance.

The Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road.

Reflecting on the race, she said: “When I think about it, I can’t believe I did a half marathon. If it wasn’t for all the sponsorship I probably would have pulled out as I felt so ill. But somehow, I got through it, and it still amazes me to think what I achieved.

 “The atmosphere on the day was amazing. The energy you get from the people lined along the streets is so uplifting, you get carried away with the spirit of the event. Pre-Covid I was probably about 30 minutes quicker, so I was happy with my time. I’m just glad I finished!

 “My family have been very supportive and while they were worried how I’d get on, I think they know me well enough to know that if I commit to something I will give it my very best. I think they are really pleased for me and now worried that their mother is probably fitter than them!

 “I am so grateful for everybody who has given me sponsorship. The Wales Air Ambulance is such a vital service and knowing I was raising money for the Charity gave me the motivation to take part in the race when I wasn’t feeling well. I would like to sign up to more events going forward but I don’t think anything will be able to top this.”

The Wales Air Ambulance service offers advanced critical care across Wales. It is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership between the Wales Air Ambulance Charity and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru).

As a result, the service is consultant-led and is known as a ‘flying emergency department’, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient at the scene of an incident. This includes the ability to administer anaesthesia, deliver blood transfusions and conduct minor operations, all at the scene of an incident.

Hannah Bartlett, Community Fundraiser for Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Melinda should be exceptionally proud of herself, and her story is incredibly inspiring. She pushed herself to the limit and was determined not to give up.   

“Through her commitment she not only achieved her personal goal but raised £360, which will help save lives.