A PEEBLES mum is set to stamp an X on the London map this month by running the marathon to raise awareness and funds for a charity which supports her twin sons who have a rare genetic disorder.

Teenage brothers Matthew and Stuart McDonald, 19, were diagnosed at the age of ten with Fragile X Syndrome, an inherited learning disability.

The condition can cause a wide range of difficulties with learning, as well as social, language, attention, emotional, and behavioural problems.

For parents Craig and Gillian it was a devastating blow for their family. But they turned tragic news into triumph by raising much needed funds for the Fragile X charity, and supporting their boys in the face of adversity.

The well-known family have proved to be real heroes of the Fragile X Society, with their determination and drive to raise awareness of the relatively unknown condition, and ploughing thousands into the charity which supported them through challenging times.

And now, set to break her own fundraising target and realise her lifetime's ambition, Gillian will take to the streets of London to prove she has the X factor.

After her application in the open ballot to run the marathon was rejected four years in a row, Gillian was not ready to throw in the towel. Husband Craig, chairman of the Fragile X Society, discovered that the charity and been successful in its bid for a place.

Speaking to the Peeblesshire News this week, Gillian said: "The charity opened it up for anyone to apply with the condition that a minimum of £2,000 is raised. I did my research and most charities raise around this amount, so I set a higher target of £5,000."

It was a dream come true for Gillian when her application was accepted.

Not only would she be achieving her goal to run the marathon, she would be doing it for a cause very close to her heart.

The family along with their dedicated army of supporters, including members of the Forever Fit Club, planned a series of successful fundraising events and are extremely humbled by generous donations from local businesses.

And to top it off, Gillian has completely smashed her initial target, and with donations still rolling in is set to raise more than £10,000.

To raise even more funds, they will take to the streets of Peebles next Saturday, April 14, to run a 26 lap relay race starting at the Tontine Hotel.

And there won’t be any rest for them the day after, as they are hosting a coffee afternoon at Forever Fit Club on Sunday 15th, at 1pm.

Gillian is well prepared for the marathon and has been training hard despite the Beast from the East hindering her.

She said: "I feel ready for it and just need it to happen now. The snow has interrupted training but I’m back on track. It’s quite lonely, running on the country roads and keeping the motivation to run the distance.

"People say the number of runners in the marathon gets you through it, and on every street there are people cheering you on. I am quite excited about the experience, and for the London Marathon to be my first and maybe last marathon!"

Among those crowds cheering their mum on will be the boys in blue, Matthew and Stuart, who are dying their trademark ginger hair blue in honour of their mum and the charity.

With the support of the Fragile X and the awareness of their condition, the boys are going from strength to strength and are now in their second year of a Skills for Life course at Borders College.

They have also applied for Project SEARCH through Scottish Borders Council, which helps young people with learning disabilities gain employability skills.

Craig said: "There is nothing to stop them in the future in having some form of independent living. It might be supported and they might not be able to leave home, which is the harsh reality. However, they want to aspire to supported living and we want them to strive to achieve paid employment."

Craig pointed out that Fragile X is not well known.

He added: "The more people that know Stuart and Matthew have Fragile X means the less vulnerable they are in our society, and the more people know about the condition the better."

The boys are loved by many in their home town and are at the forefront of every fundraiser for the charity. When asked how their mum would fare in the London Marathon, they said: "She's going to absolutely nail it – and we are going to shower her in buckets of champagne!"