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Frome runners conquer London Marathon for good causes

EMOTIONS were running high last weekend, as dedicated runners from Frome completed the London Marathon and raised thousands of pounds for causes close to their hearts. They were among some 37,000 people who took part in the 26.2 mile race on Sunday, raising much-needed funds for both local and national charities as well as completing the course in memory of friends and family. The runners included Jo Fordham and Georgie Starkie, running in aid of the Frome- based charity, Positive Action on Cancer (PAC); Carolyn Read for Parkinson’s UK; Emma Endicott for BLISS, a charity which helps support premature babies and their families; Damian Waghorn who ran in aid of the Wessex MS centre after being inspired by a close friend who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and Richard Riley who was nearly killed in a road traffic accident in August and was raising money for the organisations which helped save his life. Here is a run down of the Frome runners: Jo Fordham Jo took on the London Marathon to raise cash for Frome-based charity, Positive Action on Cancer (PAC) who helped Jo and her family through a difficult time when her brother-in-law Tony Fordham died from cancer in July 2011. Together with friend Georgie Starkie, the couple raised over £1,100 with money still coming in for the charity. Jo said, “Tony was such a fit and healthy man. It was so difficult to watch what was happening to him. But PAC gave myself and the family the tools to go through the different stages of grief. It’s such a valuable service and everything they do is for free. “Tony was well-liked in the town, and had completed his 5th Dan Black belt. He’s missed very much.” Jo has previously completed the Edinburgh marathon, but says that London’s marathon has an “amazing feeling” to it. She completed the marathon in 3 hours 57 minutes. “I’m so pleased with the time and the amount raised for PAC,” she said, “this is my second London Marathon. I did say on the day that this would be my last one, but I think I might do it all again!” Carolyn Read Carolyn had dedicated herself to raising funds for Parkinson’s UK. She managed to raised over £2,500 with cash still coming in. Around five weeks ago, Carolyn’s “biggest supporter”, her mother, suddenly died. Carolyn told Frome Times, “It was such a shock. She was so supportive of me running and completing the marathon. It wasn’t until I travelled up to her home in Derby that I found the box of fundraising events she had completed for me. There were coffee mornings she had organised and a sheet absolutely packed with names of people who took part in a “guess the finishing time” fundraiser she had organised.” Feeling low at the time, Carolyn said, “I considered pulling out of the marathon altogether, but then I thought she would have wanted me to run. She would have wanted me to finish the course and I had to honour her support for me. “The actual course is quite emotional too. There are people with tops saying they were running in memory of their father or son. I know it sounds a little clichéd, but it felt as if she was with me for every step of the way.” Carolyn completed the course in 5 hours 10 minutes and brushed shoulders with Ed Balls and Gordon Ramsey, along with a runner dressed as a 26ft replica of the Blackpool Tower. “It was my first marathon,” she said. “It was a massive challenge, but who knows if I will run it again.” Café La Strada created and sold a special turquoise ice cream to help raise funds for Carolyn’s cause. You can still sponsor Carolyn at Georgie Starkie The chairman of Frome Running Club, Georgie Starkie, completed the course with friend, Jo Fordham, raising money for PAC. Georgie was friends with Jo’s brother-in-law, Tony, and wanted to raise cash in his memory. Georgie entered the marathon as an elite runner after meeting the requirement of running the New York marathon in November in less than 3 hours 15 minutes. Georgie’s New York finish was timed at 3 hours 14 minutes. Georgie said, “I’ve run seven marathons before and this was the best time I’ve ever recorded. I completed the course in 3 hours 7 minutes! “It was very emotional going around the course and sometimes quite overwhelming, but it was for a great cause – the work that PAC do is incredible. “The atmosphere in London on the day is amazing. I had friends and family there on the day to cheer me on, but you become so focused on the day that you tend to block everything else out. “Running as part of the elite group is quite an experience, you have a tent to get changed in and start towards the front so you can record a decent time. It was a little more peaceful rather than running amongst the masses.” Georgie hopes to complete the five marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors. With London and New York already under her belt, she now has to conquer Boston, Berlin and Chicago. She said, “I hope to have them all done in the next three years, but we’ll have to see how it goes!” Damian Waghorn It was fifth time lucky for Damian, who had applied to run the London Marathon for the past four years but to no avail. Damian ran for the Wessex Multiple Sclerosis Centre, based in Warminster, managing to raise £1,066 with cash still coming in. He chose Wessex MS after witnessing the effect the centre had on his friend, Dean, a sufferer of MS. Damian said, “It’s such a good cause, which is solely dependant on donations. I’ve been over there a few times and the help it gives Dean is incredible. “Sufferers of MS struggle on a day-to-day basis. It’s an incurable disease that affects people of all ages. It affects the nerves in the body resulting in a variety of symptoms such as loss of sensitivity, muscle spasms, difficulty in moving, loss of balance, problems in swallowing, problems with sight and bladder or bowl problems. Yet, when I visit the centre, everyone is incredibly positive – it’s truly inspiring.” Damian completed the course in 3 hours 56 minutes, clear of his target of four hours. “I’ve completed around 20 half-marathons and two full marathons, but the London Marathon is a completely different atmosphere. There’s always something going on, no matter where you look. “I’m very grateful for the generosity of those who supported me financially and well-wishers. It’s incredible.” You can still sponsor Damian by visiting Emma Endicott Emma ran for BLISS, a charity which helps support premature babies and their families. Her three triplet sons, Kimi, Dillon and Gil, were born three months prematurely in December 2006 weighing a tiny 1lb 9, 1lb 10 and 2lb 14. Today, they are happy, healthy five-year-olds. Emma and her family have been supporting the RUH Space to Grow Appeal to build a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and in February the triplets met the Duchess of Cornwall as she opened the unit. But Emma wanted to do more – and entered the London Marathon. Emma completed the marathon in 5 hours, 10 minutes. She said, “It was my first and only marathon! But London is absolutely amazing. All the crowd call your names and cheer and the noise is incredible. “We’d done the 22 miles in training and didn’t know what to expect for the last four miles, and they were really tough.” To add to the excitement of the day Emma was one of the runners interviewed by the BBC, explaining to the nation why she was running. “That was all a bit surreal!” she said. “I was in a VIP area with celebrities wandering about.” Emma has already raised over £4,200, with donations continuing to pour in. She said, “I’m humbled and amazed at everyone’s support and generosity. “BLISS support parents and babies in neonatal care, fund and run training courses for nurses and health visitors and also, and most importantly to me they fund major research projects into neonatal care. Without such research, I don’t think the boys would be with me today.” Emma faced an additional challenge in training, having been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy in the run up to the marathon, but was relieved to find it didn’t hinder her progress on the day. Richard Riley Richard was nearly killed in a road traffic accident in August, spending a day and a half in a coma, but bounced back and was running marathons less than three months later. Since then, he has been running to raise money for the organisations which helped save his life. Richard, who finished the London Marathon in just over 4 hours said, “It was my second time doing the London Marathon, and I beat last year’s time by around 7 minutes. It was a very good race, and an excellent time. I planned hard, did my preparation, and just put my head down and ran.” Richard has completed a number of marathons and half-marathons but agrees that London is a special experience. “I think it’s the spectacle, there’s no other time you can run past Buckingham Palace without a car on the road, and there’s hundreds of thousands of people cheering you on,” he said. Richard ran the London Marathon for St John Ambulance, and has been training and fundraising through four “treadmill marathons” in Frome and neighbouring towns over the past months. In these events, he takes his treadmill into the town and runs the distance of the marathon on the spot. Collectively, the events have exceeded his fundraising target, with a total over £1,700. But the London Marathon was just a stepping stone on the way to his next challenge: running 56.8km on 14th May. This is the distance the Great Western Air Ambulance travelled to pick him up, and Richard will use the challenge to pay the air ambulance back.