Laura running first marathon for mum


A Havering resident has signed up for the London Marathon in aid of Saint Francis Hospice following the death of her mum.

Laura James’ parents took her to watch the London Marathon as a child and her mum Gillian was so proud Laura signed up for the 26.2 mile run last year, she was the first person to sponsor her.

But when Gillian was diagnosed with stage four endocrine cancer in 2018 and her health rapidly deteriorated, Laura put her marathon dreams on hold to look after and spend time with her mum.

Gillian, who worked as a Teaching Assistant at Dame Tipping School for 20 years until she retired in the summer of 2017, was admitted to the inpatient unit at Saint Francis Hospice on June 30.


Laura and her Dad Kevin were able to spend quality time with Gillian and were by her side when she sadly died on July 31.

On Sunday, April 28, Laura will be running the London Marathon in memory of her mum so more patients can benefit from the Hospice’s specialist end of life care and support services.

“Mum had been to visit the Hospice before so she knew where she was going and did not have that fear of coming to the hospice,” said Laura, who lives in Harold Wood.

“She was always adamant to come to the Hospice and my dad and I were really surprised at how pleasant it was.

“It never felt morbid. We do not look upon it as an upsetting time; it was a lovely time.

“My Mum celebrated her 65th birthday at the Hospice and we didn’t expect she’d still be here.

“We used to sit outside in the gardens and we watched the World Cup and Wimbledon.

“A friend even brought in afternoon tea one day for everyone on the ward.”

The marathon is a huge challenge for Laura as she is new to running, but she’s motivated by her fundraising for the Hospice and is looking forward to the day with nervous excitement.

“I am not a runner at all, I really hate running,” said Laura.

“For me, it is about the event; It is iconic and such an achievement.

“Mum and dad used to take me to watch it as a kid.

“I remember being 6 or 7 years old and it was one of my favourite days of the year.”


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