A GRANDMOTHER is to take on the 26 miles-plus of the London Marathon on Sunday in memory of a friend who was lost to cancer at the end of last year.

June Darley, of Long Preston, is raising cash for Macmillan Cancer Care as a tribute to Cynthia Thompson, who died in December. But June, 56, a keen runner who has previously completed marathons in New York and Berlin, knows full well that her next outing will be no ‘stroll in the park.’

For following an ankle injury, the mother-of-two now knows she will have to get around the course with a combination of jogging and walking.

June said: “Having now managed to run 10 miles continuously and with some practise at ‘jeffing’ - run, walk, repeat - I’m now planning to run or walk the marathon within six-and-a-half hours. I’m determined to bring the medal home for Cynthia.

“Having suffered an ankle injury in late February, I could hardly walk, never mind run! I had to rest the ankle for weeks and gradually introduce running back into my training schedule.

“ I also had to have a change of mind-set, attitude and race strategy - from having an original running goal of completing the marathon in just over five hours, to knowing that I could possibly have to walk the whole of 26.2 miles.

“I had intended to run the marathon without sponsorship. Cynthia changed my mind.

“Throughout her battle with cancer, Cynthia was a real fighter and gave us all hope that she would win the day. It is her courage that has inspired me to raise awareness and support for Macmillan.

“It is also Cynthia’s courage that has kept me in this race to the start line.”

June, supported by husband Peter, children Michelle and Ryan, and her five grandchildren, has already got her fundraising off to a flying start thanks to a donation of £500 from Lakeview Children’s Nursery, in Foulridge.

And the nursery is holding an ‘I Spy Nature Walk’ treasure hunt around the village, with cakes and other refreshments at Foulridge Village Hall on Saturday, May 12, with proceeds going to Pendleside Hospice and Macmillan.

Donations to Macmillan Cancer Support can be made through June’s ‘justgiving’ page http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/June-Darley2, or at Long Preston Post Office.