A Hampshire mum has pushed herself to the limit in the boxing ring to raise money in memory of her beloved big sister. 

Charlene Unwin has struggled to come to terms with the loss of her sister and best friend Lisa-Marie, who died aged 27 from Marfan Syndrome in 2008.

So the 36-year-old, a Learning Support Assistant at Fair Oak Junior School, decided to honour Lisa-Marie’s memory by competing in an Ultra White Collar Boxing event in Southampton, supporting The Marfan Trust.

Daily Echo: Lisa-Marie (left) with Charlene Unwin

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Marfan Syndrome is an inherited disorder of the body’s connective tissue that affects the heart, eyes and skeleton in one in 3,000 people.

Charlene said: “Lisa-Marie was my sister and my absolute best friend. I was 20 when she passed suddenly in June 2008, after suffering a heart aneurysm. Her loss hit me like a train.

“I’ve bottled it up for many years, so I decided that now would be a great opportunity to not only do something for myself, but in memory of Lisa-Marie. It’s been nice to channel something so awful into a positive experience to help others.”

Daily Echo: Charlene Unwin with her daughters at UWCB Southampton

Charlene, who lives with her partner Richard and their three daughters Honie-Belle, 12, ten-year-old Dolcie-Rose and Florence-Ivy, seven, in Fair Oak, stepped into the ring as one of 25 bouts at Switch. It ended in a draw. 

Ultra White Collar Boxing offers participants eight weeks of free training in return for a pledge to raise at least £50 for charity. £377,000 has been raised so far.

Charlene has smashed her fundraising goal, raising £780 already.

She said: “The whole experience has been brilliant; I have absolutely loved it. I had already joined the gym and I was looking for something extra, to make me really get stuck in. When I saw I could do this with free training and raise money for a charity of my choice, it was perfect.”

Daily Echo: Charlene (left) and Lisa-Marie Unwin

Charlene trained at Inner City Boxing in St Mary Street.

She added: “It was a great group of people all taking part for different reasons and I would look forward to training. As the weeks went by you really got to know the other people.  The girls who signed up formed quite a bond.

“On the day of the event I was so nervous – I couldn’t shake it off, but everyone was in the same boat.”

Donate at justgiving.com/fundraising/charlene-unwin1

Southampton’s next Ultra White Collar Boxing event takes place on July 13.

Daily Echo: Lisa-Marie Unwin