A bereaved mum who lost her disabled son has stepped into the boxing ring for an emotional challenge three years since he died.

Donna Greaves from Crook, County Durham had never pulled on a pair of boxing gloves less than three months ago.

The 38-year-old lost son Ryan on April 9, 2021, aged 17, despite having been told by doctors he might not make it past five years old. Ryan was born with severe cerebral palsy leaving him unable to sit up unaided or speak, and he was fed through a tube.

Donna, a dog walker, said: “The doctors predicted he wouldn’t live past five – he lived until he was 17-and-a-half.

“He just kept going until his health started to decline in October 2020. We were always just grateful for getting one more birthday, one more Christmas. Our last Christmas together was perfect – just the four of us – me, my husband ‘big’ Ryan, ‘little Ryan and his little brother Adam.

The Northern Echo: Adam giving Ryan a hug.Adam giving Ryan a hug. (Image: FAMILY)

“Adam was fantastic with him. He would help me make his meds, do his feeds and pester him every day climbing all over him. He was five when Ryan died, he talks about him every day.

“He left a massive hole in our lives. We didn’t know what normal life was anymore. Our lives were so structured around medication, and feeding.

“The run-up to the anniversary of the date we lost Ryan is awful for me, I always wonder ‘what if’ but deep down I know it was his time.

“When I saw a boxing challenge on Facebook for complete beginners that fell so close to the anniversary – I just knew, yes, I’m going to do that. I didn’t need to think about it, I just signed up. My husband thought I was crazy but supported me 100%.

The Northern Echo: Donna with Ryan as a baby in 2003.Donna with Ryan as a baby in 2003. (Image: FAMILY)

“I thought I’m going to do something positive here in his memory that will also give me strength.

“You do eight weeks of training before the fight. I have never put a pair of boxing gloves on in my life.

“When I went to the first training session I thought ‘what on earth am I doing?’

The Northern Echo: Donna had some special shorts made for the fight in Ryan's memory.Donna had some special shorts made for the fight in Ryan's memory. (Image: FAMILY)

She signed up for the ULTRA White Collar Boxing fight held on Saturday (April 13) at Rainton Arena in Houghton and after intensive training six days a week for eight weeks faced off against fellow novice boxer Paige.

She spent the eight weeks free training with Wolf Thai Boxing Centre in Spennymoor and did extra training at Newhouse Boxing Club.

After taking a battering in the first round she turned things around in the second making it 1-1 before securing the win in the third round.

The Northern Echo: Donna in the ring celebrating her win.Donna in the ring celebrating her win. (Image: FAMILY)

Donna described each round of the fight as “the longest 90 seconds you could put yourself through”.

She plans on keeping up boxing for fitness but has decided she won’t be getting back in the ring.

“I cried after I got my hand raised. It was a strange feeling.”

She has now raised £3,000 for charity the Family Fund which helped her take Ryan on holidays when he was younger.

She won the golden glove for being top fundraiser meaning she got to choose her colours for the fight, opting for those of Ryan’s favourite football team Manchester United.

The Northern Echo: Donna with son Adam, now eight, and the golden glove she won for being top fundraiser at Ryan's memorial bench.Donna with son Adam, now eight, and the golden glove she won for being top fundraiser at Ryan's memorial bench. (Image: FAMILY)

“When Ryan was younger the Family Fund helped us a lot,” Donna added.

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“You could apply for vouchers for holidays and we used to go on caravan holidays.

“As soon as I signed up for the fight I knew I wanted to support them, it’s something close to my heart. I wanted to give a little back to the charity that helped me so much.”

The Family Fund gives grants to help disabled and seriously ill children and young people and supports their families. Last year it provided more than 173,000  grants and services worth over £32 million to families across the UK.