The amazing East Anglians who are running the London Marathon in 2019 - find out their heartwarming reasons for running here

PUBLISHED: 13:57 26 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:57 26 April 2019

Amy and Sarah Lainchbury are running the London Marathon on Sunday

Amy and Sarah Lainchbury are running the London Marathon on Sunday


Tomorrow is the 39th London Marathon. It’s time for John, Heidi, Amy, Sarah, Nik, Ricky, Leanne, Danny, Sarah, Gina and Pascal, to get running, with every step benefitting many charities. Gina Long, who is also running on Sunday, talks to them…

John Barnes is running the London Marathon on SundayJohn Barnes is running the London Marathon on Sunday

I will be taking my place beside 42,000 inspirational fellow runners, we are all making our way to the capital for tomorrow's Virgin Money London Marathon, which is one of the largest charity events of the year. Ours, like many other families, think it's one of the best days out of the year, both for the runners and spectators alike. It's a day that brings out the best in the human spirit; the love and support given is tangible.

There are so many great stories and reasons why people have chosen to run. Here, I've talked to eight inspiring people, each with their own story to tell as to why they've taken on this great challenge for their chosen charities.

I, along with each of the runners featured, are indebted for all the support we have been given. We send our supporters our heartfelt thanks for what will be the most emotional fundraiser we have ever set out to do.

Ricky OssittRicky Ossitt

Amy and Sarah Lainchbury from Ipswich

'Back in October, we found out that we had both got a ballot place in this year's London Marathon. After entering on a whim it came as a slight shock that somehow we had both managed to get in! We panicked for a day or so and then decided that it was fate and that we would commit and start training for the 26.2 miles.

'Before starting our training, we had only ever run a handful of 5ks between us and quite frankly preferred working out in the comfort and shelter of our gym!

'The training has been tough and very challenging for us at times, particularly during the winter months. Snow, ice, wind, rain - you name it, we've run in it. It has been a real test of commitment and patience - especially running on Sunday afternoons smelling other people's roast dinners in the oven and even BBQs in February! Nevertheless, we have persevered and are dedicated to making sure we can get through the 26.2 miles side by side whilst doing so for a brilliant cause.'

Nik ChapmanNik Chapman

'We have chosen to run for an amazing and inspiring local charity - EACH (East Anglia's Children's Hospices). This is the biggest challenge we have ever taken on but one which we are proud to be doing together, raising money for EACH.'

John Barnes from Norfolk

Heidi BerryHeidi Berry

John is running to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust, the UK's only charity providing young people with cancer the specialised nursing and emotional support they need. John has raised nearly £2500 so far, with the help of social media and bands such as Bastille and Busted.

John said, 'Having known a couple of people who sadly died too early from Cancer and Leukaemia, having never done any fitness since leaving school, apart from running to catch the last bus to the pub, I decided to challenge myself and apply to run the marathon for this amazing charity.'

Sadly, every day, seven Teenage Cancer Trust young people aged 13-24 are diagnosed with cancer in the UK.

Teenage Cancer Trust's life-changing care and support for young people before, during and after cancer provides young people with an opportunity to build their self-esteem and meet others living through the same experience.

Leanne KershawLeanne Kershaw

I wish John all the best - he won't need to run for that bus any more. He can run to the pub himself!

Ricky Ossitt from Cromer

Harriet JohnsonHarriet Johnson

Ricky says: 'It's an honour to be running the London Marathon 2019 for Children with Cancer. I'm hoping to raise lots of money and set a big target of £3,000. With a couple of other good fundraising ideas up my sleeve, I'm confident it can be achieved.'

'I have chosen this charity especially. Whilst travelling in Australia, I became good friends with a mother called Natalie, who has four children. Her daughter Bronte had developed Neuroblastoma. The story hit me very hard and made me think of how lucky we all are, that we all grew up to lead healthy lives.'

I was impressed with the fundraising and the community spirit that the guys in Geelong managed to achieve. I hope to achieve the same levels here and raise some much-needed money for such a worthy cause. Fortunately, Natalie's daughter Bronte survived and made a full recovery. However, there are many who do not. No parent should ever have to plan their child's funeral.'

Gina Long and Pascal Canevet are running the London marathon on SundayGina Long and Pascal Canevet are running the London marathon on Sunday

Nik Chapman from Newmarket

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'In May 2016 I was training for an autumn road race when I felt poorly and was taken into hospital. I had a stroke aged 42 which thankfully got diagnosed very quickly.'

'Getting back to running, helped me both physically and mentally recover, as well as having plenty of support all the way. I did promise myself I would never do The London marathon again, but I got through the ballot and I wanted to run for Our Special Friends, as my wife and our dogs volunteer for this great charity.'

'I stared my training at the end of November 2018 and will have clocked up over 900 miles by the start; all of them outside! I have incorporated a lot of cross-training and yoga to try and stem off injuries and so far it seems to be working.”

Heidi Berry, born and raised in Norfolk, lives in Bury St Edmunds

'My husband, Mike, has always wanted to run the London Marathon but getting a ballot place is tough. This year, unbeknown to me, he entered us both. Guess what? I got 'lucky' and he didn't.'

'When I found out I'd been offered a place, the furthest timed run I'd ever done was 5km. Those who've witnessed me at Parkrun know running is not a talent I possess. Still, not wishing to let a challenge pass me by, I've been putting miles on my legs throughout the winter.'

'To ensure I didn't back out, 26 amazing sponsors have sponsored me. All their names appear on my marathon shirt (one for each mile). I'm running for My Wish, a very special charity that supports West Suffolk Hospital to support patients, families and the local community.

Leanne Kershaw from Fakenham

Leanne says: 'Why am I running? Earlier in 2018, I entered the London Marathon ballot, but like so many others, I was unsuccessful. At first, I was relieved, but this feeling didn't last long. It was almost as if being told I couldn't do something only made me want it more. So, I decided to run for Mind.'

'Why Mind? I work at East Anglian Air Ambulance, another incredible life-saving charity. Most of the incidents that EAAA attend are either cardiac arrests or road accidents, however, our crew has seen a 28.7% increase in the number of intentional self-harm missions we've attended since last year. One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Many people I know and love fall into this group, but it's important to remember that they are more than a statistic. The information and services provided by Mind can help us all to become better at supporting the people we love during tough times. Just like physical health, mental health is something that we all have. Mind provides tools in the form of information and support, training for workplaces and communities, and campaigns for change. I'm aiming to raise £2000 for Mind.

Danny Hawkins, Sarah Miller and Harriet Johnson from Norfolk

Danny Hawkins, from Taverham, and Harriet Johnson, (pictured) from Norwich, are both raising money for the disability charity with a team of 10, also including Papworth Trust CEO Sarah Miller.

Danny, 41, said: “I'm really looking forward to the atmosphere, the crowds and the physical and mental achievement of running a marathon. I'm dreading the day after!

“We have seen first-hand the good work Papworth Trust deliver in the community supporting disabled people.”

A keen runner from a young age, Harriet, 26, a corporate tax adviser, fitted in her marathon training around her passion for hockey.

She said: “I've always wanted to run a marathon. I love how easy it is to take trainers with you wherever you are in the world, and it's always a great way to explore a new place.”

Danny -

Harriet -

Gina Long from Suffolk

'My 28 year old daughter Alexandra (Ali) Barker has recently celebrated a huge milestone of being 5 years clear of the Myxoid Liposarcoma Sarcoma Cancer she had.'

'I am running for a small, very efficiently run charity, Sarcoma UK. It is the only cancer charity in the UK focused on all types of sarcoma. Sarcoma is a rare cancer of the bone and soft tissue. It is one of the hardest to diagnose and difficult to treat.'

'To say I've found the training hard would be an understatement. As a completely unfit non-runner, running the London Marathon seemed the very best way for me to mark this momentous milestone.'

Pascal Canevet Owner/Chef Maison Bleue, is also running the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK. Read more about him at

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