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London Marathon: Meet the runners

People from across the area are limbering up to take part in the 37th London Marathon on Sunday. It's the first time many have faced the 26.2-mile endurance challenge. Here are some of their stories.

Staff reporters

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Staff reporters

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Nadia Ferriday

BURNHAM: A 53-year-old from the village is running the marathon in memory of her father who passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Nadia Ferriday will be raising money for the British Lung Foundation.

She said her father started smoking at the age of six and was diagnosed in his 60s. She watched as he faced serious breathing difficulties in his final years, needing oxygen and lots of help.

She says: “When I look in the mirror now, I can see him in myself.

“We had such a strong connection.

“I dedicate each mile to someone or something that I love during marathons but I always keep the last mile for my dad.”

Anyone who would like to support Nadia can visit her fundraising webpage at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NadiaFerriday.


Jo and Sam Hawkins and Matt Evans

TWYFORD: A physiotherapist is running her first London Marathon to raise money for children’s bereavement charity Daisy’s Dream.

Jo Hawkins, 37, is raising money in memory of her friend Becca Holmes who died three years ago at the age of 40.

At that time, Daisy’s Dream provided telephone support to Becca’s husband and young son.

Jo (pictured above with Matthew Evans) will be joined by her husband Sam who is running in aid of deafblind charity, Sense, and Matthew, 40, who is also running his first marathon and has so far raised more than £1,800 for Daisy’s Dream.

After the sad loss of his baby son in 2011, Matthew has been committed to raising money for child bereavement charities including the Twyford-based organisation.

Claire Rhodes, fundraiser from Daisy’s Dream, said: “We are so grateful to Jo, Matthew and the other runners who are competing in the London Marathon this year. Their extraordinary efforts will help us to continue delivering services for bereaved children and families throughout Berkshire.”


Louise Ferriman

FURZE PLATT: A mammoth marathon challenge for Louise Ferriman will finish in London.

The mother-of-four will be raising money for the Fight For George charity, after her son George battled acute myeloid leukaemia last year.

Last month, Louise, 36, and her friend Steph James ran four marathons back-to-back along the Jurassic Coast and in Maidenhead to represent the four months of chemotherapy George endured. The London Marathon will represent when George went into remission in July.

Visit www.fightforgeorge.org to donate.


Andrew Thomas

COX GREEN: After five years of trying, Andrew Thomas finally got the acceptance letter he had dreamed of this year.

The 52-year-old, from Lowbrook Drive, previously lost out in the lottery for places at the London Marathon but when a letter dropped through his door in October, he could finally begin his training.  

Andrew said: “It was both a surprise and the realisation that I was going to have to start training.

“I started before Christmas but had a small setback with a muscle injury but since then it’s been going well.”

Andrew, who works at O2’s Slough headquarters, will be running in aid of Cancer Research UK in memory of family and friends who have lost their battles against the disease.

He has set himself a target of completing the 26.2 mile course in less than three-and-a-half hours despite the race being his debut marathon.

Visit www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Andrew-Thomas to donate.


Matt Levett

MAIDENHEAD: A new dad will take on the race for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, an animal conservation charity.

Matt Levett, a 36-year-old marketing worker from Penyston Road, has competed in the run before, in 2010, and ran in the Berlin Marathon last year.

Father to six-month-old Alfie, Matt hopes to improve his previous time of 3hrs 44 mins by more than half an hour.

 “I have been running for quite a few years now,” he said.

“I thought that (Berlin) would have been my last marathon.”

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which funds endangered animal-saving projects in Africa and Asia, is ‘small and unique’, he added.

He decided to run for them after seeing an opportunity to do so online.

Matt’s goal is to raise £1,500 and his fund-raising page is at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MatthewLevett.


The Maidenhead mums

MAIDENHEAD: A group of mums are gearing up for the run on Sunday after connecting on Facebook.

Martha Cross, Alex Brooke, Rebecca De Jager and Laura Street will be running along with Hilary Hurrey, Clare Holdway and Sarah Lotherington.  

The Facebook group ‘just for fun’ was set up by 41-year-old Hilary, from Alwyn Road.

Laura, 34, from Boulters Lock, said the purpose was so they could run together.

She said: “All of us are mums and have been doing everything possible to fit the gruelling training in around our busy schedules including running with our babies in buggies.

“Many of us run our own businesses, hold down full-time jobs and have still managed to train for our marathons.”

Martha, a mother-of-two from the Belmont area, said the training has been intense but the group has supported each other.

She said: “I’ve wanted to do a marathon for many years now, to test myself and to fundraise to help others. After taking voluntary redundancy I finally ran out of excuses and signed up.”

Sarah, a mother-of-two from the St Mark’s area, said the marathon had always been on her bucket list.

Alex, from Furze Platt, who will be running the marathon for the second time. said: “I know it will be tougher this year as I had an emergency C-section eight months ago, but I’m just going to take in the amazing atmosphere and enjoy it.”

Clare Holdway, a mother-of-two from Holyport, said: “Running  can be a cruel mistress, whatever your level. It challenges everyone in some guise at some point. Having a group like ours means that when  you do have a wobble you know you have the support of others to keep you on track.”

Search Alex Brooke, Sarah Lotherington, Martha Cross,  Laura Street on Virgin Giving Money and Clare Holdway, Hilary Hurrey on Just Giving to donate.


Philomena Burrows

MAIDENHEAD: A mother-of-two from Maidenhead will be running the marathon for the first time to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Philomena Burrows, 37, from Cranbrook Drive, said her husband challenged her to beat the amount he raised several years ago as she was looking for a new challenge.

Philomena said: “My dad has cancer which can’t be cured, so he needs treatment and has been through chemotherapy for the last six months.

“I’m not a natural runner, I’m a mum and can only go for a run once the kids are in bed. My dog Hunter usually comes with me after dark.

“My husband raised £3,500; he said he will take me to run the New York Marathon if I raise more than he did.”

Visit http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/philomena-burrows


Anthony Hornby

HOLYPORT: As a thank you for the help he received when growing up, Anthony Hornby will take on his first marathon for the children’s communication charity I CAN.

The 26-year-old, of Springfield Park, is a former pupil of two of the charity’s schools, Meath School, Surrey and Dawn House School, Nottinghamshire.

At five years old he was diagnosed with severe verbal dyspraxia, a condition that makes it difficult to co-ordinate movements needed to produce clear speech.

When he arrived at Meath School at seven, he could barely string two words together but with time his speech started to develop.

He now works for SportsAble in Braywick Road and his mum Liz said without the charity’s support ‘he would not be in the position he is today’.

Anthony said: “I want to say a big thank you to I CAN and raise money for how well they did to me and how far I’ve come from young child to adult.”

He has already surpassed his £2,000 fundraising target.

Visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/anthonyhornby


Amanda Skipper

MAIDENHEAD: More people will benefit from free counselling thanks to one of the runners.

Amanda Skipper, 47, has been operations manager at Relate Mid-Thames & Buckinghamshire in Marlow Road, Maidenhead, for two years.

She is raising money for the charity’s Bursary Funding Scheme, which means local people in need of relationship counselling can access it for free if they need to.

Amanda said she thinks her first marathon will be her last and training through the winter has been ‘hard work’.

She said: “The money that I raise will go straight to helping local people. My target is £1,200 but I would love to raise a lot more. We are find more and more people using the service.”

Sponsor Amanda at https://mydonate.bt.com/events/relate2/417970


Rebecca White

COX GREEN: Rebecca White, 37, from Cox Green, will be running for Asthma UK.

The mother-of-one, who has asthma, took up running last year when she was training for Tough Mudder, a hardcore obstacle race.

She joined a running group in Burnham to help her train and has been building up her distances.

She said: “I have been an asthmatic all my life and although my asthma is mild now I know first-hand how difficult it can be to live with the fear of not being able to breathe, always needing an inhaler and not being able to participate in various sports and activities.

“So running a marathon will be an incredible achievement for me and something I am already very proud and excited and nervous to be a part of.

“It’s been a lot of sacrifice and it’s been very challenging.”

Rebecca has competed in Dorney and Reading half-marathons for her training.

Visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/rebeccawhite11 to donate.


Sam Elder and Nikki Alvey

MAIDENHEAD: Sam Elder and Nikki Alvey, from Maidenhead Ladies Circle, will be raising money for a charity which creates wishes for children with life-limiting illnesses.

Nikki, 40, a mother-of-two from the St Mark’s area, said they decided to run the marathon in a ‘moment of madness’ for her birthday bucket list.

Sam, 37, an office manager from Woodlands Park, stepped up to support Nikki in the race and raise money for Round Table Children’s Wish.

The friends have been training by competing in Maidenhead Half and Thorpe Park Half and have done 107 runs in total.

Nikki said: “We’re excited and terrified in equal measure. We’ve put so much in and have had huge amounts of support from family and friends – we just want to do them proud.

“As members of Ladies Circle, we try out different activities and take on new challenges all the time.

“We very much wanted to give children who won’t be able to have these opportunities later on in life, to have their wishes granted now.”

Visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NikkiAndSam to donate.


Sarah Brown

MAIDENHEAD: When Cody Brown reached the age of 13 months and still couldn’t sit up or make the babbling noises you may expect from a baby, his mum Sarah sensed something wasn’t quite right.

A diagnosis in February 2009 revealed he was suffering from Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system, causes speech difficulties and movement problems.

Sarah turned to the Angelman Syndrome Support Education & Research Trust (ASSERT) which helps families and carers for people with the condition.

In recognition of the help the group has given her family, the Maidenhead mother-of-two will pound the pavements of London to raise money for the group.

Sarah, 39, said: “Cody doesn’t have any speech and he will need care for the rest of his life. ASSERT helped me when he first got his diagnosis and it’s been so nice to be able to speak to other families that suffer with the condition.”

Cody, nine, now goes to Manor Green School and attends regular meet-ups, organised by ASSERT.

Maidenhead Athletic Club member Sarah hopes to finish in under four hours. See http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SarahBrown42


Elisa Harris

MAIDENHEAD: Elisa Harris from Moorland Way is running the marathon for the first time this year on a ballot place.

The 45-year-old said: “Running this race has been on my life list for as long as I can remember.

“I’m dedicating this to my mum who will be at the finish line cheering me on.

“Last year was a very difficult year for us when we lost my brother unexpectedly and my mum has been really strong; she is so proud of my achievements.”

Elisa said the marathon will be the culmination of 20 weeks of training through the winter, several injuries and a few tears along the way.

She added: “Running really helped me keep my head straight last year.”

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