SEVEN former school mates have joined forces in memory of a friend they lost to muscular dystrophy.

Lauren Tate, 21, from Durham City is appealing for runners to sign up and support the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Durham City Town and Gown 10k run on Sunday, March 9.

The event is set to raise £10,000 for the charity’s work funding research into treatments for muscle-wasting conditions and supporting families affected by them.

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The former Framwellgate School student and her companions -  Rachel Oates, Khadiza Uddin, Becky Harrison, Emma Scott, Charlie Laing and Stephanie Foster - lost friend Ollie Clark suddenly in May 2012, when the teenager’s heart failed during a climbing trip.

Mr Clark had been diagnosed with Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy several years previously, a condition which causes muscles to weaken and waste over time, including heart muscles.

Over the past two years the friends have thrown themselves into fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign in his memory, organising a summer ball, a brass band concert and helping to co-ordinate a charity Christmas concert.

Ms Tate plans to plunge 10,000ft as part of the charity’s Make Today Count sponsored skydive event, while Ms Scott and Ms Uddin will tackle the Great North Run later this year.

Ms Tate said: “We always say that Ollie brightened up any room he walked into. He had such a great personality – he was so much fun and always happy.

"People we went to school with who didn’t know Ollie well had no idea he had muscular dystrophy. He would never let it get him down.

“Fundraising has been a great way for us to do something positive in his memory. We organised a summer ball on the weekend he would have marked his 21st birthday. Everyone got dressed up and we got to spend the time together; it was such a lovely way to remember Ollie.

“I would like all the Town and Gown runners to know what an important cause this is. The funds you raise really do help people. There is so much that can be done when the funding is there.”

Toya Champ, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s events manager, said: “Fundraising support from people like Lauren and her group is behind all that we do. We are deeply grateful to them for all their hard work.”

For more information about the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Durham Town and Gown 10k, or to sign up visit