Ottery student runs for his life

Marathon runner Peter Neilson

Marathon runner Peter Neilson - Credit: Archant

An Ottery student who was given a ‘second chance’ is celebrating 1,000 days since his life-saving treatment by running a marathon.

Peter Neilson was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia at the age of 16, when he had to drop out of The King’s School to take treatment.

The aspiring vet was cured after waiting seven months for a bone marrow transplant, and now wants to raise £1 for every day since his treatment for CLIC Sargent.

“I was worried about my future and my career but most of all – my life,” said Peter.

“However with the support of my family, The King’s School and the doctors at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and Bristol children’s hospital, once I was recovered I knew I could still follow my dream and become a vet.”

He had to take two years out of school, but returned with a new determination, getting straight-A’s in half the normal time. He has just finished his first year of Nottingham’s vet school.

“When in hospital, having treatment, I looked around me and saw that there were others who weren’t going to get their second chance at life,” said the 19-year-old.

Most Read

“I’m determined to fulfil my dream to honour those dreams that have been left unfulfilled.”

The Aylesbeare resident is in training for the Robin Hood Marathon in September, when it will be 1,082 days since his treatment.

He said he has never run a marathon before, nor done any kind of distance running, but he is pushing himself to help CLIC support other youngsters.

Peter is also keen to promote the Anthony Nolan Trust, which maintains a stem cell donor bank and is currently on a donor drive.

“There are many others though who never got that phone call telling them that a donor had become available,” he added.

“To join the register, all you need to do is provide a spit sample – you can’t get easier than that!”

For more information on the charity, visit, or to sponsor Peter, go to

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter