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Death of athlete prompts medical warning

PUBLISHED: 11:32 09 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:07 03 July 2010

THE daughter of a leading club athlete who collapsed and died while on an early morning training run has implored anyone doing strenuous exercise to seek six-monthly medical check-ups.

THE daughter of a leading club athlete who collapsed and died while on an early morning training run has implored anyone doing strenuous exercise to seek six-monthly medical check-ups.

Paul Brookshaw, 46, described by his family as “the healthiest person you could imagine”, had set out at 6.10am from his home in Weavers Close, Stalham, saying he would be back by 7.30am. He failed to return on time and was later found collapsed on the other side of town by a schoolboy who raised the alarm.

Despite efforts by paramedics to revive Mr Brookshaw, he was pronounced dead at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

A post mortem examination later revealed that despite being an improving club runner who had run a marathon only the previous month, he had blocked heart valves, a condition he had unknowingly lived with for many years and possibly all his life.

His daughter Kayleigh, 22, an Army combat medical technician, said her father had followed a strict calorie-controlled diet and serious exercise regime and had never had any symptoms whatsoever.

She said: “Out of this tragedy, I would like to raise awareness of the importance of athletes having regular medical check-ups. If my father had gone to the doctor, it might have shown up a heart murmur.”

His widow Tracey described her husband of three years as her knight in shining armour, “a very loving person who would leave me notes around the house showing his love for me”. He had also been a doting stepfather to her eight-year-old son Jamie.

Since his death on Wednesday last week, she had been “overwhelmed” by the cards and messages of support she had received from local people, the running community and friends.

Since joining Yarmouth Road Runners two years ago, Mr Brookshaw had steadily improved his personal bests over a range of distances.

He had set his PB for 10km - 39min 21sec - at Coltishall in March and had finished his second marathon at Halstead in Essex last month in four hours despite suffering a foot injury.

Mrs Brookshaw said: “Despite being one of the club's leading runners, on training nights he would wait for the last runner to encourage them to the finish. That was Paul. He would do anything for anyone.”

Mr Brookshaw - known as Brooky to his friends and family - also has a son Stuart, 18, from his first marriage to Tanya with whom he had come to Norfolk from Kent.

He had moved to Stalham with his second wife Deidre, and during that time became well-known in the town as a Dairy Crest milkman and retained firefighter.

He gave up firefighting duties in 2005 due to the demands of his last job as a warehouse manager at Trend Marine, in nearby Catfield.

Before taking up running, he had done weightlifting and played squash and football.

Mrs Brookshaw, who returned from a holiday to St Lucia with her husband only days before his death, said: “He recently became redundant but even that did not faze him. The following days, job hunting was intermingled with doing competi-tions and sitting in the garden if it was sunny.”

Yarmouth Road Runners spokesman Mike Spragg said: “Paul, known by all as Brooky, was much-loved and highly regarded by all those who were fortunate enough to meet him.

“From the very minute he joined the club over two years ago he made his presence felt with a string of excellent performances earning him the club's personal best trophy two years running.”

Mike Walton, crew manager at Stalham Fire Station, said: “Paul was an extremely likable bloke and a good, committed firefighter. He was a popular member of the crew and, with his great sense of humour, was the life and soul of the station.”

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