December 5 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
A volunteer at east London’s children’s hospice who is almost 70 is preparing for his fifth and final London Marathon.
Derek James at 69 is still fit and young enough to tackle a gruelling 26-mile run through the streets to raise funds for Beckton’s Richard House Hospice.
The retired teacher from Silvertown, who turns 70 just five days before the April 21 ‘test of stamina’, felt so moved by the work of the hospice that he decided to run one final race to raise at least £1,800 for the charity.
“I was helping out at the pasta supper for last year’s runners and wished I was doing it again like I used to,” he recalled. “I wasn’t planning to run this year, but that was a turning point.
“Richard House is a worthy cause, so I’m running to raise money for them.”
He has been volunteering in the hospice gardens two days a week for the past five years, from general maintenance to installing the shell of a boat and putting up a beach hut for the children.
His first marathon was in 1985, when he was 27 years younger and probably 27 years fitter. His best finishing time one year was 3hrs 5mins. His last big run was six years ago when he was almost 64.
He expects this year to be his final race. The time needed for training nowadays has become “a big commitment”—six days a week, currently with the Barking Road Runners, giving himself just one day off.
Derek is one of 28 volunteers running for Richard House this year, who between them hope to raise £45,000.
The 33rd London Marathon in April takes Derek from Woolwich, across Tower Bridge, through Wapping and Limehouse, looping round the Isle of Dogs, then heading back through the City, along the Embankment, past the Houses of Parliament to finish in the Mall.
Wellwishers can sponsor Derek James online at: www.virginmoneygiving.com/mylastmarathon