London Marathon 2017: Meet this year’s Havering runners

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 April 2017

James Morris gives his reasons for running the London Marathon

James Morris gives his reasons for running the London Marathon

Saint Francis Hospice

After months of training and preparation thousands of runners are set to take part in the world’s most famous marathon on Sunday.

Stretching 26.2 miles and taking in some of London’s most famous landmarks the Recorder meets some of the borough’s entrants who will be part of an army of devoted and selfless fundraisers generating millions of pounds for various charities and good causes.

Steve Wheatley:

Driven by his love of challenging himself, Network Rail employee Steve is ready to take on the iconic marathon route for the 20th time.

The 54-year-old, of Grey Towers Avenue, Hornchurch, will once again join thousands of runners on Sunday in aid of the Havering Association for People with Disabilities (Had).

He said: “My manager, who is married to someone at the charity, asked if I could run for them and I thought it would be a good idea to do it to raise money this time.”

Steve has also travelled to America, France, Germany and Canada over the years to run a total of 26 marathons.

He said: “I don’t know why but I love to take on challenges and compete – it can be hard work sometimes but I enjoy it.”

Steve has so far managed to raise about £1,000 for the charity.

Clare Kelly, befriending and carers support co-ordinator at Had, said: “We are delighted Steve is fundraising for Havering Association for People with Disabilities by running the London Marathon.

“The staff and some Had members are excited to go along and cheer him along on the day.”

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Alan Daly:

Hornchurch boy Alan has plenty of experience to draw on as he attempts the marathon.

He is a regular half-marathon and tough mudder competitor, and first ran the London Marathon in 2014. However, he has still found training a struggle this year.

“Other than carrying 18 stones around many miles, avoiding alcohol where non-mandatory has been the hardest part. With my client-focused line of work it has been a real struggle to be well behaved,” he said.

As an insurance broker in the City of London, Alan, 28, has had to fit in training when he can.

He said: “Training has been done mostly in lunch hours and in the morning when most people are still asleep, and when you factor in the preparation work for runs, such as food, it takes a lot of time.”

Alan will be running for Saint Francis Hospice, which cared for his father during a brief battle with cancer.

“Cancer affects so many people nowadays and recently friends and their families have had to lean on SFH for support, so I’m also running for the future people who will need to hospice’s help,” he said.

Lucy Bernard-Qureshi:

Palliative care doctor Lucy will be swapping her white coat and stethoscope for running gear and trainers when she takes on the marathon.

Lucy, 39, will be raising money for Saint Francis Hospice, where she is training to become a consultant.

“Running a marathon is a huge commitment in terms of time but when I knew I would be working at the hospice I applied for one of its gold bond places because I think it gives you a stronger connection with the charity.”

She has been helped in her marathon training by professional runner Harmander Singh, trainer of the world’s oldest marathon runner, Fauja Singh.

“Harmander has been great in helping me to build up my confidence as running is so psychological,” said Lucy.

Luke Inglis:

A 23-year-old says he cannot wait for the big day which he will be running for in memory of his nan.

Luke, of Hornchurch, has already surpassed his expectations of fundraising for Cancer Research UK with a total of £5,000 donated by friends, family and members of the community.

He said: “Everyone has been so supportive, getting behind me and making donations.

“I’m really excited now and just want to smash it.”

Luke held a fundraising event at The Victoria pub, Victoria Road, Romford, earlier this month which made £2,000.

He will be running for his nan who died of liver cancer five years ago.

Luke said: “It is really important that everyone does something to help, even if you do one big thing in your life to raise money because that could lead to finding a cure.”

Gavin Boorman:

He has witnessed first-hand the pressures young people face and to help challenge the stigma associated with mental health, Gavin has pledged to pound the streets of London.

A West Ham United Football Club mentor and performance analyst from Collier Row, Gavin, 26, has pledged to raise cash for children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

The good cause provides counselling support and therapeutic services in primary and secondary schools.

“I assist the under 18s with their development,” he said.

“I know from my work with this age group that the pressures that can often be associated with sport can have a significant impact on emotional wellbeing.”

Place2Be is a partner organisation of Heads Together, a charity spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Gavin adds that because of his work with young footballers he feels passionate about supporting emotional as well as physical wellbeing.

Along with Heads Together, the charity has achieved great progress in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health problems.

To help raise vital cash, Gavin has trained hard over the last few months, and has fitted in long runs around his busy schedule.

James Morris:

When James reaches the marathon starting line he will be thinking of his grandad, Jim.

Jim died of cancer in 2004 and towards the end of his life was supported by Saint Francis Hospice. Now, 24-year-old James, of Romford, is running to raise money for the charity that cared for his “Poppa”.

The memory of his granddad has spurred him on through his training, including the Silverstone Half Marathon in March.

“I’ve been hitting the roads in the sleet, rain and cold and it has definitely been tough at points but I have a strong motivation and that keeps me going.

“When Poppa was ill I was too young to understand much about it but my dad’s family told me how brilliant Saint Francis Hospice was and how he passed away in peace,” he said.

He also wants to support Saint Francis as it is his local hospice.

He said: “And I know that every step I take is going a long way to help a great charity.”

Spencer Littlechild:

Cyclist Spencer has had to fit training around his two young children, his job as a police officer and his triathlete wife’s competition schedule.

It has been a serious challenge for the 40-year-old first-time marathon runner, and it did not get off to the smoothest start.

“I was over in the USA, and was running through Central Park in New York when I felt my achilles tendon go. I couldn’t train for two weeks,” he said.

But soon, Spencer was back on the road and training whenever he could – including running for the train and cycling with his friends at the Hornchurch Cycling Club.

“I’m looking forward to the actual day of the London Marathon. Hopefully I’ll have my family there and members of the cycling club to cheer me on, plus everyone at Saint Francis Hospice.”

The hospice looked after his mother before she died of cancer three years ago.

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