LIFE is not always easy and it doesn’t always play out the way we would like it to. Yet it is how we respond when faced with adversity that makes us the people we are ultimately destined to become.

We can give up, lose faith and stray from our path – or we can stay strong, fight hard and battle through the tough times and come out the other side wiser and stronger. That is what I’ve seen over the past few months from a good friend and talented Swindon triathlete, Ciaran Alstowe.

As you might have already read in Tuesday’s Advertiser, Ciaran became the youngest race organiser in the UK when he staged a sprint triathlon in Wootton Bassett last weekend. The event raised more than £1,000 for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. This is a remarkable achievement in itself, but it is all the more extraordinary given that Ciaran did this less than a year after the sudden death of his mum Louise.

Despite trying to come to terms with his own grief and loss, manage his studies at the University of Bath and continue with his own training, Ciaran also organised this sell-out event which has no doubt inspired so many others to take up triathlon.

I had the good fortune to get to know Ciaran better when I was back in Swindon at Christmas and I was so hugely impressed at his strength and will through what is an incredibly testing time. Like Ciaran, I know what it is like to lose a parent suddenly.

For anyone reading this who finds themselves also lost in grief or despair or suffering through a tough time, remember that the bad times pass and the good times roll through. Remember that happiness is not something that lands at our feet, but rather something we can create ourselves even when it seems the most unlikely.

When I was 22 and my father died I thought my world might end right there and then, but 12 years later I am a happy, vibrant and successful young woman whose Dad would be rightfully proud of all she has achieved and will go on to achieve. We all have a choice. Go out and be a Ciaran. Inspire, impress and achieve.