London Marathon beckons for St Albans and Harpenden runners

RUNNERS from all around the St Albans district are gearing themselves up for their big day – Sunday’s London Marathon.

They will be pounding the pavements of London for a variety of causes, either because of personal links with a charity or a strong desire to show their support for others.

Among those taking part is a school secretary from St Albans who is running the marathon in memory of her dad following his death from bowel cancer.

Joined by her running partner Carole Peel, Phillipa Andrews will be raising as much money as possible for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer.

The 37-year-old mum-of-three, who works at The Abbey primary school, was very close to her dad and was left devastated by his death.

She has already taken part in the Great North Run and has other events lined up to raise money for Beating Bowel Cancer, which provides support to sufferers and campaigns to raise awareness of the disease.

Their son James’ brush with meningitis has spurred on Mike and Rhian Burton to run the marathon in aid of a charity which is trying to help find a vaccine for the deadly disease.

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James is now a fit and healthy 14-year-old student at Verulam School in St Albans but he fell dangerously ill with the meningitis B strain when he was just nine months old.

Rhian said: “Looking at James now you would never guess how ill he was. He’s taller than me with long curly hair. He’s into rugby and heavy metal – a world away from that poorly baby lying in hospital.

“It sends shivers down my spine thinking of what could have happened had we not trusted our instincts and been persistent with the doctors.

“We decided to run for Meningitis UK to help raise money for vaccine research in the hope that lives will be safeguarded in the future.

Working for the Samaritans has prompted David Wrottesley to run the London Marathon for the charity.

As one of its press officers, the former St Albans School pupil, 27, has seen first hand the importance of the work it carries out in providing a helpline around the clock for those who need confidential, non-judgemental emotional support.

David, who is a former Herts Advertiser reporter, said: “It’s a really important cause because we get over five million calls a year from those who are in distress and may have suicidal thoughts and we are available all through the year, when many other services are closed.”

He continued: “I’m not an experienced marathon runner, in fact it’s my first marathon (I once ran in the St Albans Boys School cross country team many, many years ago) so I’m feeling a bit concerned about whether I can actually do the distance!

“But I’m putting in the miles and have done a couple of half marathons in training and am feeling quite fit at the moment compared to my usual lazy self. I’ve even been running home after a day’s work.”

David, who is currently living in Blackheath which is about 200 metres from the startline, is also getting tips from his dad Mike Wrottesley, of Beechwood Avenue, who has run 10 London Marathons but is not running this year.

A church minister from St Albans has inspired one runner to complete the gruelling 26.2-mile course to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Anna Steward’s father, Roger Steward, was the minister of Hatfield Road Methodist Church and the nearby Sleapshyde Village Chapel until he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s two years ago – aged just 60.

Anna was shocked to learn how little could be done to help her father and how underfunded research into the disease was and set about training for her first full marathon to raise money.

She is aiming to raise �5,000 and the language teacher, who now lives in West Norwood in South East London, said she had been amazed by the support from her pupils who have raised over �1,200.

PE teacher Lucy Still is joining the Mr Men and Little Miss team at the Marathon in a bid to raise �2,000 for children affected by Britain’s most common childhood cancer.

Lucy, 36, who teaches in St Albans and is running in one of the largest teams in the Marathon, explained why she opted for the charity Children with Leukaemia: “I am a teacher dealing with young children and a mother of two small boys so children’s charities are close to my heart.”

Joining her on the same team will be Tom Goldsmith of Tyttenhanger who lost his friend to leukaemia in 2005 and also decided to raise money for Children with Leukaemia.

The 29-year-old countryside access officer has set himself the ambitious goal of raising �2,000 and has organised a series of fundraising events.

IT manager David Clamp is running the Marathon in aid of international charity Mercy Ships.

David, 45, hopes to raise �2,000 for the charity which operates the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy.

He said: “I chose Mercy Ships because it’s such an excellent charity, giving medical assistance to people in Africa who have little or no access to free local services.”

It is the second year he has run the Marathon for Mercy Ships and he has been training every day, increasing his miles week by week.

Veteran of the London Marathon, Denise Rayner, will be back in her running shoes on Sunday when she takes part in her fourth run through London.

Denise, of St John’s Court, St Albans, who took part in the 2000, 2006 and 2010 London Marathons, is running this year for local charity, the Herts Air Ambulance.

It costs �130,000 a month to keep the service running and it is dependent on money from people living in Herts.

Teenager Camilla Chilvers, a former pupil of Wood End School and St George’s Schools in Harpenden, is running the Marathon to raise money for Help the Hospices.

She has been training hard for the event and has set herself a target of raising �2,000.