See some of the Suffolk and Essex runners taking part in the 2017 London Marathon
PUBLISHED: 21:34 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:29 21 April 2017
One of the biggest sporting events in the English capital takes place on April 23, with thousands of runners travelling to the city to take part.
There is always a strong contingent from Suffolk and Essex taking part in the London Marathon, and this year is no exception.
Take a look below at some of the athletes taking on the challenge, and keep an eye out for them as they make their way round the course.
If you want to donate to any of the runners we’ve listed, click on the links to go to their online fundraising pages.
Simon Chittock: The 38-year-old, from Martlesham, was paralysed on a ski trip as a teenager and is taking on the marathon in a wheelchair.
He is taking part to raise money for prostate cancer research (his father died from the disease aged 62 in 2014) and Whizz Kidz, which provides mobility equipment for disabled children.
“This is my first marathon, a few of us from work applied to take part and I was the only one who was accepted,” he said. “I wanted to do something in memory of my dad and this was the perfect opportunity to raise some money.”
Lauren Pollard: Running as part of the national Slimming World team to raise money for Cancer Research UK, the Ipswich 26-year-old has lost more than six stone since Christmas 2015 in order to be ready for the marathon, despite living with multiple sclerosis.
She was just three when she lost her mother to breast cancer, and is running to celebrate her memory.
“I can’t believe how far I’ve come in the past year and a half and all the incredible changes I’ve made,” she said.
“I’ve really found a love for running and I can’t believe I’m now going to be running the big one this year – my dream – the London Marathon.
“I can’t wait for the atmosphere on race day and to cross that finish line. Achieving this lifelong ambition would never have been possible before losing weight.”
Gordon Merfield: This will be Mr Merfield’s 101st marathon – and it could be his toughest yet.
After a long career in athletics including countless triathlons and 15 ironman competitions, the 78-year-old from Knodishall with incurable prostate cancer will take part in the London Marathon – for Macmillan Cancer Support – on his crutches.
“I have found with cancer the fitter you are, the better your chances are,” Mr Merfield, who is raising money for Ipswich Hospital’s oncology department.
“If you sit around you just go downwards. I want to say to people, it is not the end, no matter your age you can fight it, there is always hope.
“Don’t make the mistake of giving up, I know it is easy to quit. I want people to feel he has done it and he is just a silly old man.
“That’s what I want people to think. If this old devil can do a marathon, then so can I.”
Joanne Saunders: The Children’s Burns Club at the Mid Essex Hospital Trust will benefit from her marathon fundraising.
“I will be so proud of myself when I cross the finish line, as a marathon is something I’ve always wanted to do and a great achievement,” she said. “If I can do that knowing I’ve raised money for a great charity it will make it even more special.”
Gemma Manchett: The fourth generation of her family to work at Newmarket-based vehicle recovery firm Manchetts is raising money for Whizz Kidz.
Alister Cameron: Fundraising for The Children’s Burns Club, Mr Cameron is taking part in his first ever marathon.
“My grandson Archie is my inspiration for running the marathon,” he explained. “He was scalded when he was only nine-months-old and spent time at the Burns Unit at Broomfield.
“The Children’s Burns Club have been amazing and this is a way that I can give something back to them to say thank you for all the hard work that they do.”
Tony Moorcroft: Aged 54, Mr Moorcroft is taking on his first marathon in London and raising money for St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmunds.
The Woodbridge runner said preparing for the event has been “a big challenge for me, but hugely enjoyable”.
Tom Copsey: Mr Copsey is taking on the marathon in memory of his dad, and at the same age when he first took part.
Aged 24 and raising money for Cancer Research UK, Mr Copsey lost his dad Paul, who was 57, in May 2015 after a five year battle with advanced Stage 4 melanoma.
“I think he would be proud,” said Mr Copsey. “He completed the Ipswich marathon at my age, so part of this is also about me following in his footsteps. I miss him very much.”
Kelly Goody: The 39-year-old from Framlingham is running in aid of the Meningitis Research Foundation.
She explained: “My little brother Martyn died from meningitis when he was just 15 months old. The death of my brother, all those years ago had an effect on me when I became a mother.
“Now I am mentally stronger I am finally doing my bit to help fight against meningitis and also to put some postnatal depression ‘demons’ to bed myself about the effects this disease had on our family.”
Rebekah Lawrence: Another first-time marathon runner, she is raising money for the breast reconstruction awareness at the Mid Essex Hospital Trust, where she works.
“It made sense to raise money for the Breast Reconstruction Awareness charity within my department because I know how much the patients benefit from the charity, which provides support and equipment above and beyond what the NHS can provide,” she said.
Sonja Chenier: The Colchester 43-year-old is running in aid of military charity Blesma.
Debbie Cooke: Running in memory of her dad Brian Hall, a former Colchester United left-back, she will be raising money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.
“I’ve been following the 16-week marathon training plan to the letter,” she said. “I ran the Colchester Half Marathon as part of my preparations, which was an amazing experience to get a feel of running a big event.”
Gemma Conn: She is running for Out to Africa, a charity which promotes improvement in healthcare at a hospital in Zambia and is linked to the Mid Essex Hospital Trust.
Philip Cherry: Also raising money for The Children’s Burns Club, which he first got to know through his volunteering work.
The marathon is a step up for Mr Cherry, who ran a half-marathon two years ago.
“Crossing the finish line will be a huge personal achievement for me, I’m aiming for a time between three hours and 30 minutes to three hours and 45 minutes, but honestly just finishing will be huge, and more importantly hopefully raising as much as I can for the club so they can continue the invaluable work that they do.”
Daniel Hart: Mr Hart is running for the Mid Essex Hospital Trust’s charity, as a thank you to the care his wife and daughter received at Broomfield Hospital in 2015.
He said: “Crossing the finish line will put a tick on my bucket list and bring a huge smile to my face knowing that the work I’ve put in, and the generosity of my sponsors, will be for the benefit of many people.”
The 25-year-old, who was inspired to take part after watching friends take on last year’s marathon, said of her training: “It was really hard at first. I had to start from scratch just running for a couple of minutes at a time with walking breaks in between.
“Now I have just taken part in the Silverstone Half Marathon and I am feeling confident that I will make it around the London course on the day.”
Gwilym Goulson: This is London-based teacher Mr Goulson’s first marathon and will be run in aid of the RSPCA’s Suffolk East and Ipswich branches, where his mother works. Sponsor Gwilym at www.virginmoneygiving.com/gwilrunsthemarathon
Ben Portus: Equine vet Mr Portus from Felsted is planning to run the marathon in a donkey costume.
He works at Paton and Lee Veterinary Surgery in Witham and is raising money for the charity Brooke – Action For Working Horses And Donkeys, which helps horses and their owners around the world using the animals to work their way out of poverty.”
Saffron Von Grey: Her first marathon will be in aid of the Mid Essex Hospital Trust’s burns department.
She said: “It will be an amazing achievement and something I will probably remember forever. Plus it will mean I am that much closer to the pub dinner I promised myself after – a big fat steak is definitely on the menu.”
Neil Frost: The 38-year-old father-of-three from Kesgrave has already raised more than £3,000 for Cardiomyopathy UK inspired by the sudden death of his friend and workmate.
Neil said he was not a runner until May last year and has gone ‘from the couch to a marathon’ in just ten months.
Odette Tattersal: She is running the marathon to raise money for the Combat Stress charity. Her husband, who served in the military for 26 years, including tours in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, suffered post traumatic stress from his warzone experiences. Odette, from Bury St Edmunds, said Combat Stress have been incredible, supporting the family and improving his mental health.