My wonderful father-in-law, Roger, very sadly passed away on Wednesday, 15th October, just two months after falling ill, and just a month after receiving his cancer diagnosis. It's been an incredibly difficult and painful time, particularly for his sons, Francis and Stephen, but the support of the Saint Francis Hospice was invaluable to us, and made it possible for Roger to stay at home until the end. They provided phone support, visited in person, provided equipment, chased up the District Nursing team and our GP, and arranged for a Marie Curie nurse to be with Roger overnight. I don't know how we would have coped without them, at a time when we really didn't know where to turn or what to do.
Roger, with Francis's lovely aunt Jenny, cheering me on!
Because we've all felt so helpless, and I feel the need to "do" something, I've decided to start fundraising. It's the only useful thing I can think of, and it's a way of saying thank-you to the Hospice. I want to help them continue to do such brilliant work for other families, and they were also a charity that Roger donated to before he was ill, so it seems fitting that I support them in his memory.
Roger was always so interested in my events, and every week we'd talk about what I had coming up next. He was a very keen walker, and had completed the St Peter's Way which is the route of an ultra race that I've done a couple of times, so we shared some common ground and he was very supportive. Roger even came to the Lake District during the 10in10 to cheer me on during my final marathons and got a sign made up for me. He was such a truly lovely, genuine man.
Over the next year, I've decided that I will be taking part in 24 events, so it's going to be VERY busy, without much time for recovery, including the Ironman in July (the most ridiculously difficult thing I've ever done) and the Thames Path 100 again, when I will be trying to beat last year's time. The Cyprus marathon is also on my radar, although I've not signed up for it just yet. Roger had a holiday house out in Cyprus, and as we've been going through his papers, we've come across a newspaper article that he cut out, about the marathon. I wonder if he was going to suggest it for next year and so I'd now love to run it.
I will be fundraising for the Saint Francis Hospice, and hope to raise £5,000 for them. The next year is going to be tough - really tough - as I attempt to complete so many events across different sports, but hopefully so tough that it will warrant donations from everyone!
I ran the Chelmsford Marathon on Sunday, and although it wasn't a particularly enjoyable course, I thought of Roger every step of the way, and am very glad I did it. He went to school in Chelmsford, and so feel it was a fitting place for the first event of my 24.