WHEN Terry Bird’s son, Josh, was born with a bilateral cleft lip in 2010, “it was totally unexpected”. Josh’s cleft lip had not been picked up during pre-natal scans, so the day he was born was difficult.

Terry, aged 51, of Cheddar, recalls, “We had to process things quickly and come to terms with what lay ahead. But the South West Cleft Unit team were fantastic from the first day, and Josh’s support throughout his first 15 years has been amazing”.

At just 16 weeks old, Josh had surgery to repair his lip, and aged 11, he underwent another surgery which involved having a bone graft from his hip to his gum. Josh is now undergoing extensive orthodontic treatment in order to hopefully have a nice straight set of teeth.

Reflecting on the treatment that Josh has received, Terry says, “We are very lucky in that we have had great support from the cleft team, and Josh has grown up surrounded by a group of close friends”.

So in a bid to give back, as well as do his bit to ensure children born with a cleft around the world have access to the same level of care that Josh did, Terry has undertaken numerous challenges over the years, raising in excess of £20,000 for cleft-related charities.

Having completed five marathons over the years, he is no stranger to the incredible feat – and having had a nine-year gap since his last marathon, he knows it’s going to hurt. Terry says, “After turning 50 in 2023, I am out to prove that I still have a marathon in me and want to continue to give back in support of helping other families affected by cleft.”

Terry has coined his upcoming marathon, the ‘never again’ marathon having vowed never to do one again after his last, but he’s feeling positive.

Father and son competing in marathon to support those affected by cleft

Commenting on his training so far, Terry sayid: “It’s been pretty good, and I’m now about a stone lighter than I was a year ago. But my legs certainly let me know about that 9 year’s difference since the last marathon!”

His fundraising is going well, and he’s already raised over £2.8k. Commenting on his fundraising to date, Terry added: “We held a school disco back at the start of February where a bunch of grown-ups all turned up in school uniform for a great 80s throwback.

“With the support of a network of great friends and supporters, fundraising has been going very well so far, but we can always go higher of course.”

To read more about Terry’s story and donate to his cause, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/page/terry-bird-run-london.

The Smile Train is the largest cleft-focused charity, empowering local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally.

They advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive.