A man from Northampton is putting himself through his paces to train for his first London Marathon to raise vital funds for children with cancer, in memory of his younger sister, Rosie.
Eric Pratt will be putting his fitness to the test on Sunday, April 28 by taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon to raise money for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.
Eric, 33, said: “Although I am relatively sporty I have never run a marathon before but I’ve always wanted to run the London marathon – training has been really tough and has taken up a lot of time but that’s exactly the challenge I wanted, something Rosie could be proud of
“I am running for CLIC Sargent because we realised that Rosie and the family would likely have utilised the day-to-day support of the charity if she was alive. I’d love it if the kind people of Northamptonshire got behind my challenge and helped to raise vital funds.”
Rosie, 19 at the time, was a ‘happy-go-lucky, sociable and bubbly young woman’, preparing to start her job as a healthcare assistant when she started to feel unwell, going to the doctors with bleeding gums and back pain.
Rosie continued to feel unwell and went to the out of hour’s doctors, where she was initially told that she had a viral infection and was sent home. However, later that day on the 27th November 2016, Rosie collapsed and was rushed into Kettering General Hospital with suspected Sepsis. The doctors ran tests which confirmed that she had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (a very rare and aggressive form of cancer) and was due to start treatment. Rosie was sedated and sadly she didn’t recover.
Eric said: “When Rosie collapsed and was in hospital, my sister Katie phoned me to tell me the cancer diagnosis, and obviously I couldn’t believe it - I didn’t even know she was ill or had been to the doctors. As far as I knew she was a healthy 19-year-old.”
Eric, who was living in London at the time with his wife, spoke to the family and decided that as Rosie was now going in for treatment, he would travel up after the procedure, once things were clearer.
“I made it to the hospital 10 minutes after she died, I didn’t have time to say goodbye. Rosie’s mum, my dad and sister were with her throughout, but I wish I could have been there. It was a huge shock for everyone and no one saw it coming.
“After she passed away we saw on her social media that she had been feeling unwell but must have kept a lot of the pain to herself. We now know that her symptoms were common signs of leukaemia and blood tests should’ve been administered earlier.”
During this difficult time, Eric and his family decided to raise money for CLIC Sargent, a charity that would have supported Rosie through her treatment and beyond.
“After we heard what a great charity CLIC Sargent were we arranged for their collection buckets to be at Rosie’s funeral. In the last couple of years all of Rosie’s family and friends have fundraised for CLIC Sargent and we’ve raised £10,000 in her name so far.”
Eric is now a Dad to one-year-old Rémy and has moved to Northampton to be closer to his family in Irthlingborough.
“Life has obviously changed significantly for us as a family, in particular my wife and I now have a young son, and my sister and her partner also have a baby girl. We know Rosie would have adored them both and spoiled them with love and affection. It’s difficult to accept that they will never meet our beautiful Rosie.”
Since signing up to the marathon, Eric has been training hard and running 18-20 miles during weekends, as well as balancing work, and keeping Rémy entertained.
“When I’m running, I often think about Rosie and all that she went through, it can be quite therapeutic and a good release," he added. "At the point when I’m close to giving up, thinking of Rosie will give me that extra motivation and will help me get over the finish line.”
Jade Clarke, Major Runs Project Manager at CLIC Sargent, said: “When cancer strikes young lives we fight tirelessly to limit the damage it causes beyond their health through practical, emotional and financial support. We rely entirely on donations to fund our vital work and so we can’t thank Eric for their incredible efforts.
“Training for a marathon is a huge commitment. From all the lie-ins Eric has sacrificed to get out of bed and run to every blister they’ve encountered – we are so appreciative of their hard work and determination. We’ll be there on the day cheering Eric all the way to the finish line.”
To sponsor Eric’s London Marathon effort, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com//EricPratt