Brain injury survivor set to run London Marathon after learning to walk and talk again


London resident Connor Blundell will be running this year’s TCS London Marathon after overcoming a brain injury which left him paralysed on one side and unable to walk and talk.

21-year-old Connor was studying abroad, when a fall left him with a serious brain injury that put him in a coma for a month and hospitalised for eight.

The last four years has seen Connor go through intense rehabilitation as he has had to regain the use of his right side, as well as learning to talk and walk again. While in hospital, he set himself a goal to run the London Marathon and he’s now set to fulfil that dream this month alongside his dad Chris, 57.

Prior to his accident, Connor was a keen runner having previously completed the Manchester Marathon in just under three hours, which automatically qualified him to take part in the London race. During his recovery, he was not only determined to walk again but to get back to doing the sport he loved.

He slowly rebuilt his strength and ability to run, starting out with covering 15m, before increasing the distance to 50m, 100m, 500m and so on. Last year, he moved to London – almost three years after his accident – and completed the Big Half, a half-marathon, in the city. Connor says he wasn’t fast, but he was just pleased to complete it.

His accident also left him also unable to write, but as well as regaining his mobility, Connor also restarted his studies. Less than one year after his accident, Connor restarted his degree in Mechanical Engineering at Bristol University and graduated last year.

On Sunday 21 April, Connor and Chris, both originally from Sheffield, will join thousands of other runners to take on 26.2mile course around the capital. They’re running in aid of national homelessness charity Crisis, and international charity, WaterAid, and have so far raised over £2,000 surpassing their initial fundraising target.

On taking on this challenge, Connor said: “After my accident, I just wanted to return to doing the things that I loved doing before my fall. There was only a 40% chance that I’d be here today, so I’m fortunate that my determination shows you can achieve things you never thought possible.

“Whilst I’ve faced challenges in the last few years, I have always had a roof over my head and clean water coming out of a tap. I want to help in any way I can, I’ve volunteered at food banks for a number of years, and it only felt right to raise money for both Crisis and WaterAid once I got my place. By supporting both charities and raising as much as possible, it feels like we can make a real impact.”

Chris, Connor’s dad, says: “I wanted to run alongside Connor because of how much he’s inspired me over the last few years. Both he, and my daughter, Iona, have volunteered in food banks and their experiences and the people they’ve met have always struck a chord. I always feel so helpless when I see people who are forced to sleep rough, especially in the UK where it is often so cold and wet.”

Across England homelessness is rising, with over 242,000 households experiencing the worst forms of homelessness including spending months or years in poor quality B&Bs and hostels, and spending nights on stranger’s floors.

In London, the number of people sleeping rough is at its highest in ten years, with the latest figures from October-December 2023, showing that over 4,300 people are being forced to bed down on the capital’s streets.

Crisis provides services and support to people experiencing homelessness across Great Britain through its nine Skylight centres, including in East London, Brent and Croydon. In London alone, Crisis worked with over 4,700 people last year, providing tailored one-to-one services and support with housing, education and benefit advice so that people can leave homelessness behind.

Rob Halkyard, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Crisis, said: “Levels of homelessness are increasing across Great Britain due to the cost-of-living crisis, sky rocketing rents and a lack of affordable housing. Yet, we know it doesn’t have to be like this, and why we’re determined to see it ended for good.

“Every year, we work with thousands of people as they begin to rebuild their lives away from homelessness. But we’re only able to do this because of the incredible support from people like Chris and Connor and we’re honoured that the pair have chosen to support us.

“Connor is an inspiration for what he’s achieved during his recovery. We’re so grateful to them and wish them all the best on the day.”

Jennie York, Executive Director of Fundraising & Communications at WaterAid, said: “For anyone, attempting to run a marathon is a huge achievement but to do so after recovering from a brain injury is nothing short of inspirational. We are so grateful to Connor and his dad, Chris, for their incredible efforts to raise money for WaterAid.

“Across the world, 703 million people – that’s 1 in 10 – are still without access to clean water. That means walking long distances to collect water that is often dirty and can make people sick. Time wasted walking for water prevents children from going to school and families from earning a living. Every penny that Connor raises will help towards turning the tide on the water crisis and ensure that more people have access to this basic human right.”

You can support Connor and Chris by sponsoring them here: