Meet Suffolk's magnificent London Marathon runners

Suffolk marathon runners

Clockwise from top left: Neil Hunting, Christen Savage and Kate Parry Crooke, Phil Willis, Leslie and Josh Wright, Steve Paul and Laura Aspinall - Credit: Neil Hunting/Kate Parry Crooke/Leonard Cheshire/Josh Wright/Joe Paul/Laura Aspinall

Tens of thousands of runners are preparing to take part in this year's London Marathon on Sunday – either on the streets of the capital or on 'virtual' routes closer to home.

Simon Gallo is running his 26th consecutive London Marathon after overcoming Covid and developing a rare skin condition.

Simon Gallo

Simon Gallo, aka the Mad Medic, with the flags of his two chosen charities - Credit: Angie Tillett (Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity)

The 62-year-old salesman, of Stratford St Andrew, developed coronavirus symptoms in March 2020.

While his immune system was weakened, he developed a condition called pyoderma gangrenosum.

Simon, who also has has type one diabetes, gained weight while on steroids for his leg injury but has since dropped almost two stone.

Ahead of joining other runners in the capital for this year’s London Marathon, Mr Gallo said: “I could not imagine not being there, because I got the bug.

“I’m just chuffed to bits that I’m able to do it and that it’s on.”

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Calling himself the 'Mad Medic', Simon will run in surgery scrubs and carry flags of his two chosen charities he is supporting – the NSPCC and the Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity.

Andrew Skea, NSPCC assistant director for the East of England, said: “We can’t thank Simon enough for his continued efforts despite only recently recovering from such a horrible illness." 

To support Simon, click here or here.

Ipswich power worker, Jens Doncaster has spent two-and-a-half years training for the event, which was postponed until October this year.

Jens Doncaster

Jens Doncaster is aiming to finish in three hours and 15 minutes - Credit: Jens Doncaster

The 35-year-old advanced electrician for UK Power Networks, who will be running in aid of St John Ambulance, said: “Through my family and friends racing speedway over the years, the St John Ambulance has played a big part ensuring the best treatment is given after a bad accident. 

"By raising money to support them, it is a thank you for what they have done and continue to do in all events and emergency situations."

You can sponsor Jens here.

Phil Willis, 27, from Southwold, will be running for disability charity, Leonard Cheshire.

Phil Willis

Phil Willis is running for Leonard Cheshire - Credit: Leonard Cheshire

Phil gained confidence to forge a successful career after landing a place on the charity’s internship programme, Change 100.

Originally from Plymouth, Phil has had a stammer all his life and feels his employment journey was boosted by a paid summer placement with brewers SABMiller.

He now feels he ‘owns’ his stammer and views it as a positive: “It’s something I’ve had since childhood, and I’ve undergone various types of speech therapy, but the internship was the most helpful thing for me.”

Since the experience, Phil has worked at the Treasury in London and is now settled as a senior associate for a finance company.

Marcus Missen, executive director of fundraising and marketing at Leonard Cheshire said: “It’s incredibly exciting to have runners attending the first full-participation London Marathon since 2019 and we’re absolutely thrilled to have 48 taking part in this flagship event."

People can support Phil here.

Christen Savage, from Rattlesden, will be running for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust with friend, Kate Parry-Crooke.

Christen Savage (right) and Kate Parry Crooke

Christen Savage (right) and Kate Parry Crooke - Credit: Kate Parry Crooke

The 29-year-old's own health was transformed last year when the game-changing cystic fibrosis (CF) drug, Kaftrio, was made available in the UK.

“I see myself as fairly fortunate in my life with CF, having managed to stay fairly well and recently getting access to Kaftrio, which has changed everything," she said.

"Having spent a lot of time in CF clinics and wards over the years, and following the work of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, what is constantly apparent is that others are not so lucky – at times I have even felt guilty for that.

"I’m fundraising so that hopefully everyone with CF will get access to life changing drugs and the support needed to live a life unlimited.”

Beverley Burnham-Jones, head of community and events at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “We’re so grateful to our wonderful supporters, some of whom have cystic fibrosis themselves, for taking on this mammoth challenge."

Sponsor Christen here.

Guiding leader Krystie Miles is hoping to follow her own advice on when she takes on the virtual marathon.

Krystie Miles

Krystie Miles will be running to raise money for GirlGuiding - Credit: Krystie Miles

The 34-year-old, a higher level teaching assistant at Thurston Primary Academy, said: "We are always telling the children to challenge themselves, so now it's my turn."

School colleagues, Cockfield netball teammates and friends will be in the village to cheer Krystie on.

She will be running to raise money for GirlGuiding to help ensure the availability of training and support for leaders.

Sponsor Krystie here.

Tracey Goddard, manager at the Refill Eco Company, in Woodbridge, will be running for St Helena Hospice.

Tracey Goddard

Tracey Goddard will be running for St Helena Hospice - Credit: Tracey Goddard

The 38-year-old, from Clacton on Sea, is hoping to get round inside five hours.

You can sponsor Tracey here.

Senga Macro, 44, from Norton, will be running in aid of Home Start in Suffolk.

Senga Macro

Senga Macro and her year one pupils - Credit: Senga Macro

The year one teacher at All Saints Primary, in Newmarket, was inspired to apply for a ballot place after reading Running the Smoke: 26 First-Hand Accounts of Tackling the London Marathon.

In July, each of her 26 pupils ran a mile to show their support. Accompanied by her pet dog for hundreds of miles worth of training, Senga said running helped keep her sane during lockdown.

"I chose Home-Start in Suffolk to fundraise for as I had the pleasure of working with the amazing team for a year and continue to be an ambassador for them," said Senga, who is hoping that her husband, who works offshore and is currently in the North Sea, will meet her at the finish line.

You can sponsor her here.

Laura Aspinall, 33, from Felixstowe, is running for Tommy's charity, which provides baby loss support and funds research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. 

Laura Aspinall

Senior midwife at Ipswich Hospital, Laura Aspinall - Credit: Laura Aspinall

As a senior midwife at Ipswich Hospital, Laura said the charity is one very close to her heart. 

It will be two years since she got her charity place to run the marathon, which she hopes to finish inside five hours.
You can sponsor her here.

Neil Hunting, 44, from Ipswich, will be running for The Somerville Foundation, supporting young people and adults born with heart conditions. 

Neil Hunting

Neil Hunting will be running for The Somerville Foundation - Credit: Neil Hunting

The reservations manager for Star Clippers travel agency hopes to finish in four-and-a-half hours.
You can sponsor him here.

Offshore recruitment specialist Leila Bye, 40, will be running with her husband, Neil, a 41-year-old nuclear design engineer at Sizewell B.

Neil and Leila Bye

Neil and Leila Bye - Credit: Leila Bye

Leila will be running to help fund a £100,000 specially adapted playground project at the Warren School, in Lowestoft, where her son is a pupil.

Neil will be running for the Daisy Garland, which supports children in the UK with drug-resistant epilepsy.

The couple live in Lowestoft with sons Jude and Drew, who has severe epilepsy and global development delay.

Sponsor them here and here.

Oliver Rubinstein, of Exning, who turns 30 the day before the marathon, will be running for Farm Africa, which supports farmers in East Africa to develop sustainable, resilient businesses, to help tackle poverty in the long term. 

Oliver Rubinstein

Oliver Rubinstein will be running for Farm Africa - Credit: Oliver Rubinstein

Oliver, who works for the National Farmers Union and lives in Exning, has twice completed the ultra-endurance Pan Celtic cycle race for the cause.

You can sponsor him here.

Richard Daws, 35, is a facilities manager for the Norse Group and lives in Lowestoft. 

Richard Daws

Richard Daws will be running for the MS Society - Credit: Gary Pembroke

Richard's dad, Stephen, passed away in 2010, aged just 55 following a 10-year battle with multiple sclerosis.

"Although there is no cure, we can support people and fund research," said Richard, who will be running for the MS Society, with a target time of three-and-a-half hours.

You can sponsor him here.

Andre Wright, 49, an electrician, from Stowupland, is running for Old Newton Pre-school and hoping to finish inside three-and-a-half hours.

Andre Wright

Andre Wright - Credit: Andre Wright

You can sponsor Andre here.

Despite having ME and fibromyalgia, Gemma Hoyes, 29, a marine science PhD student living in Haverhill, is hoping to complete the marathon with a target time of seven hours.

Gemma Hoyes

Gemma Hoyes - Credit: Gemma Hoyes

Gemma raised money for the ME Association as a part of her training and you can still sponsor her here.

Connal Griffiths, 39, a senior quantity surveyor for RG Carter, from Kesgrave, will be running for a special Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG) fuund, set up in memory of local girl, Hayley Bendall.

Connal and Griffiths

Connal Griffiths with son Noah at the Kesgrave 5k - Credit: Melanie Griffiths

Hayley passed away in September 2018 at the age of 7 – three years after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma.

Sponsor Connal here.

Father and son, Leslie and Josh Wright, aged 51 and 27, from Bury St Edmunds, are both running for the My Wish Charity to enhance care to all at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Josh Wright and Leslie Wright

Josh Wright and Leslie Wright - Credit: Josh Wright

Sponsor them here.

Kay Oxford, 52, of Hadleigh, who runs the Gentle Touch beauty salon in Ipswich, will be taking part on Sunday for the Stroke Association.

Kay Oxford at the Twilight 10k

Kay Oxford at the Twilight 10k - Credit: Kay Oxford

Kay's mum, Diane Graves, passed away almost two years ago from a very sudden stroke at the age of 78. 

Kay, who is a member of the Hadleigh Hares running club, said: "I will be so proud to run for charity in memory of my beautiful mum and also achieve a long held ambition to run the London marathon."
To sponsor Kay, click here.

Deborah Beckford has a charity place for the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, a patient-led charity aiming to improve quality of life after heart failure. 

Deborah Beckford

Deborah Beckford - Credit: Deborah Beckford

The 31-year-old radiographer at Addenbrooke's Hospital, from Norton, will be running in memory of her late friend, Jamie Wilding, who died at the age of 30 as a result of heart failure.

Jamie was an ambassador and fundraiser for the foundation. 

You can sponsor Deborah here

Alan Ramos, who owns the Painter’s Cafe, in Sudbury, with his wife, Tracy Cleet, will be running for The Clabile Trust.

Alan Ramos

Alan Ramos - Credit: Outlaw

The charity works to improve lives in the Waterberg area of South Africa with education and employment.

Alan, 34, was born in Mexico and moved to South Africa in 2015 before coming to the UK.

To sponsor him, click here.  

Steve Paul will be running his fifth marathon this year – in memory of his father, who died at the beginning of the year.

Steve Paul

Steve Paul - Credit: Joe Paul

The 60-year-old, from Ipswich, who also ran the virtual marathon last year, will be raising money for the NSPCC.

RAF veteran, Steve, who volunteers as part of the NSPCC's school services, is also a member of the Eastern Masters Athletic Club.

Sponsor Steve here.

Mum-of-three Nicola Godfrey will be running for the children's charity, Barnardo's.

Nicola Godfrey

Nicola Godfrey - Credit: Nicola Godfrey

The 49-year-old commercial property director, from Barrow, is an active member of the Suffolk Barnardo's Helpers Group.

All of the money she raises will go straight towards the Invisible Lives Project, which provides specialist support to the most vulnerable groups of children in Suffolk.

Sponsor Nicola here.

Kylie Rolfe, 39, from Woodbridge, will be running for St Elizabeth Hospice.

Kylie Rolfe

Kylie Rolfe - Credit: Kylie Rolfe

Kylie's mum battled lung cancer and stayed at the hospice for a month before she passed away last November.

Kylie said the staff were exceptional in taking care of her mum and supporting the family.

You can sponsor her here.  

Cathryn Mellersh, 55, is fundraising for Penny Brohn UK, which offers practical and emotional support to cancer patients and their families.

Cathryn Mellersh

Cathryn Mellersh will be running for Penny Brohn UK - Credit: Cathryn Mellersh

Cathryn, from just across the Cambridgeshire border, in Burwell, will be running her first marathon, but has already completed the two other events that comprise the 'London Classics'; the 100 mile Ride London bike ride, in 2017, and the two-mile Swim Serpentine, in 2019.

Initially, she didn't intend to fund raise, thinking the challenge itself would be enough, but just as her training started to get tougher, so did her cousin Katy's four-year battle with cancer. 

"I asked Katy which charity she would like me to raise money for and she nominated Penny Brohn UK, because they had provided her with tremendous support throughout the cancer journey," she said.

Sadly, Katy lost her fight with cancer and died on September 6, at the end of 49.  

"I am desperately sad that Katy won't see me (hopefully) cross the finish or know how much money I raised," said Cathryn. 

"But I am all the more determined to finish it and raise as much money as I can for the charity that helped her so much."

Sponsor Cathryn here.

A number of the county's running clubs will also be sending a contingent of members to the marathon this year, such as Woodbridge Shufflers, whose numbers include Becca Harry, Ben Solway, Fran Telford, Ian Coxall, James Cornish, Julie Dovey, Lisa Squirrell, Matthew Hunt, Norman Smith, Roger Ackerley and Simon Sinclair.