Former soldier takes on marathon for cause close to heart

(l-r) Connor Martin, 14, Nigel Smalley, Louisa Martin, Cameron Martin, 13, (Front l-r) Harry Smalley, nine and Sam Smalley, 15, all of Wheatley Hills, are all together as Nigel prepares to run the London Marathon to raise money for the National Autistic Society. Picture: Andrew Roe
(l-r) Connor Martin, 14, Nigel Smalley, Louisa Martin, Cameron Martin, 13, (Front l-r) Harry Smalley, nine and Sam Smalley, 15, all of Wheatley Hills, are all together as Nigel prepares to run the London Marathon to raise money for the National Autistic Society. Picture: Andrew Roe

A FORMER soldier who is one of five family members diagnosed with autism is taking on the London Marathon to raise money and awareness about the condition.

Nigel Smalley, of Wheatley Hills, has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and his wife Louisa and her three children Cameron, 13, Connor, 14, and seven-year-old George also have forms of autism.

The 36-year-old’s condition makes it difficult for him to cope with unfamiliar situations and means he can struggle with social interaction.

He is taking on the gruelling 26 miles in aid of the National Autistic Society as he wants others to benefit from the support they offer to those struggling with autism.

He said: “I’ve done a few half marathons, but nothing like the full 26 miles. If I need motivation I just have to turn to Louisa and all the kids.

“There are few families who have as much experience of autism and Asperger’s syndrome as ours: five diagnoses in a family of seven is a lot. Louisa really helped me through getting my diagnosis and coming to terms with what it means for me.

“Since then, we all moved into one home together in October and things are going really well. I am just thrilled to be running for the NAS as they provide such valuable support and services for people who are affected by autism, like me, Louisa and the kids.”

Nigel, of Chestnut Avenue, served in Bosnia and Northern Ireland before he became a lecturer at Construction Careers in Kirk Sandall.

He has previously completed the Great North Run and the Silverstone Half Marathon.

He added: “I always knew something wasn’t quite right but I wasn’t properly diagnosed until I met Louisa. It wasn’t understood when I was at school but they know much more about autism now and I want families like mine to benefit from the work of the NAS.”

Nigel is now an ambassador for the NAS.

To sponsor him in his marathon attempt visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NigelSmalley