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Team taking on virtual London Marathon for Sue Ryder

A team of runners will take on a virtual London Marathon this weekend in memory of two greatly-missed fathers.
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The team are ready for a marathon around Peterborough this weekend

The super six, who are members of the Longthorpe Runners group, will start their Virtual Virgin Money London Marathon in the grounds of Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice early on Sunday morning (October 3).

They will follow a circular 26.2mile route through Thorpe Meadows and along the banks of the River Nene, skirting round the Ortons and Ferry Meadows Country Park.

Their friends and family will set up drinks and cheer stations along the route. These will represent iconic landmarks of the London Marathon, including Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and The Gherkin.

They will finish by running up ‘The Mall’ - the long drive leading to the grounds of Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.

The challenge is being organised by Kellie Herson in loving memory of her husband, Martin Herson. Martin, from Peterborough, was cared for at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice and passed away on December 16, 2020 aged 53.

The father-of-three, who was a “valued and respected” associate at Buckles Solicitors, was a dedicated member of Longthorpe Runners and took part in the London Marathon two years on the trot in 2016 and 2017.

At the time of writing, Kellie has raised £2,462 for the Peterborough hospice in Martin’s memory.

It is set to be a doubly special day for Kellie on Sunday, as she will run the virtual marathon on her 50th birthday.

Running alongside Kellie will be Elaine Nash, Paul Nash, Anne Piccaver, Lucy Oakley and Sam Oakley.

Sam is doing the challenge in honour of his dad, Mark Oakley, who sadly passed away on May 23, 2021. Mark founded Longthorpe Runners in 2014 and his fellow teammates say they miss his “playfulness, fun and enormous sense of adventure.”

Kellie, who has been training hard to prepare for the big day, said: “We would love to recreate the atmosphere of the London Marathon and would appreciate it if people are able to cheer us on or give us a wave as we run round Peterborough in honour of Martin and Mark. We wanted to do something positive and fun after so much unhappiness over the past year.”

Reflecting on the care from Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice that inspired her to take on the challenge, Kellie said: “After being told the devastating news that we were going to lose our darling Martin, Sue Ryder stepped in and surrounded our family with as much love, care and support that we needed to get us through the most awful time of our lives.

“Martin was kept safe 24/7 and due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we were only allowed to visit him for one hour per day. He was obviously scared and lonely, but the hospice staff made him comfortable, they made him laugh, they talked to him in the middle of the night when he needed a friendly face, they continuously made sure that the children and I were OK and kept in the loop of how he was.

"Most of all, they loved him like he was a member of their own family. I cannot thank them enough for what they did for Martin and us as a family.

“To help with my grief, I decided to run the virtual London Marathon on my 50th birthday in order to raise funds for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice. No amount of money could ever compensate for what they have done for us but every little helps. Thank you to all the team at Sue Ryder from the bottom of my heart.

“Thank you to all my family and friends for supporting me with this challenge, and especially to my children Bethany, Aimee and Euan for their continued support.

"Martin loved his Wednesday night training sessions and long runs early on a Sunday morning. His Longthorpe Runners family supported Martin throughout his illness with cancer and continued their support to my family and I after we lost him. I will be forever grateful for this.”

Helen Kingston, Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, said: “We want to wish Kellie, Sam, Lucy, Elaine, Paul and Anne the very best of luck for their virtual marathon in Peterborough on Sunday. The distance of 26.2 miles is no mean feat and they are putting in a marathon effort to raise vital funds for our hospice. We are very grateful for their incredible support, which helps us to continue to provide our compassionate palliative care and be there when it matters for local families.”

You can support Kellie and the team’s virtual marathon through JustGiving: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kellie-herson3 or through Martin’s tribute page: https://martinherson.muchloved.com/