WHEN Gary Richmond was beaten up and left for dead, doctors told his partner Karen he may not even survive an operation to remove part of his skull.

They said that if he did pull through that he would face a long journey on the road to recovery. Three years later, the pair are still on that journey together.

Gary now suffers from epilepsy while Karen Taylor is lacing up her running shoes for the Bupa Great North Run to raise money for charity. The 46-year-old from Johnson Fold has been with Gary for 25 years and says they have both had to come to terms with the condition.

Karen, a clinical eye liaison officer, said: “Gary was severely beaten and left for dead. He had to have a craniotomy to remove part of his skull. We were warned that if he survived the operation he still had a long journey ahead of him.

“Six weeks later, while Gary was in rehabilitation, he developed epilepsy. Just when we thought we were over the worst, we had to learn about epilepsy.

“That was three years ago. He can go months between seizures and no two have ever been the same. Gary has no warning and is totally unaware when he has a seizure.

“In one severe seizure, he broke both shoulders. Each seizure he has is different from the last and we have no idea when one will strike.

“I have been with Gary for over 25 years. Due to his brain injury, he has memory problems and has forgotten most of our history.”

Karen will take on the 13.1 mile run on Sunday, September 15.

She said: “I have taken part in numerous races before, from 5km races to the London Marathon last year. Running helps me focus and deal with life when it doesn’t work out how you want. It helps me to stay on top and gives me a goal to keep moving forward.

“At the end of the day we are survivors. Gary’s injuries could have killed him, but they haven’t. Epilepsy is now just an annoying factor of our lives, but hopefully one day soon we will be able to get complete control of it.

“After the rough ride of the last few years and the changes that have happened, we have decided to make plans for the future.”

The couple are also planning to get married in 2015.

For more information about Epilepsy Action, go to epilepsy.org.uk/events.

To sponsor Karen, visit justgiving.com/Karen-Taylor12.