“I’ll forever remember the help that the hospice gave Lisa”
With the London Marathon a few weeks away, we caught up with Martin Wray who ran the infamous race last year in memory of his great friend Lisa:
My friend Lisa knew everyone, and everyone knew her. She was a motormouth! She used to design and make wedding dresses in Horsham and my mum is a seamstress, so she worked for her adjusting the clothes. Through her dresses she had hundreds of people who got to know her and stayed friends with her afterwards.
Lisa and I were friends for about 20 years. I raced motorbikes and she used to see me riding around on my bikes as we lived very close to each other. Our friendship came out of nowhere. I took her out for rides on my bike and then she decided to buy one herself. We were always great mates, and when her son Taylor was born she asked me to be Godfather.
Lisa was ill for a long time. When she was in the hospice, I visited her three times a week. The staff there are unbelievable, one of the nurses broke her back to help me and Lisa. I’d never stepped foot inside a hospice before, but the care was amazing and they weren’t just looking after Lisa, but after her children, Jodie and Taylor, as well.
It was when I was sat in the hospice with Lisa that I said, “We’ll have a deal – you try and get yourself better and I’ll do the London marathon.”
I had started running during Covid. I’ve got Rheumatoid Arthritis and because my immunity was really low, I went and lived in the middle of nowhere on a big farm outside Glasgow with my family. As there was nothing really to do there, I started running and I got the bug!
When I moved back from Scotland I carried on running so when Lisa became ill, I decided to run to raise money for St Catherine’s.
To train for the marathon I ran lots of events. I decided to do runs in places where I have friends who could run with me, so I did the Richmond Half, London Landmarks Half and Run Reigate. I even ran to the hospice to see Lisa as part of my marathon training and took a long route, so I ran 17 miles to get here. It was hillier than I expected and Lisa wondered why I was so tired when I arrived!
To raise money, I organised a massive fundraiser through my cricket club in July 2022 and we ended up with 200 people attending. We were hoping Lisa would come along on the day but, unfortunately, she was too ill as she had an infection. But we had her on the TV and Taylor came up on stage to help us with the auction which raised about £4K, thanks to some very generous friends of mine. It was such a success it’s going to be an annual event from now on.
Lisa died two weeks before I ran the marathon. We had planned for her to come – but she didn’t make it. It was a ridiculously emotional day for me. While I was waiting to start the race, I posted an emotional video on Instagram and the reaction was incredible – the money just started flooding in, it raised about £3,000 and my phone was going crazy!
On the starting line I spotted a few other St Catherine’s runners in their orange vests and we all started the race together.
By mile 20 I was in a world of pain. I saw my mum and dad on the side and I lost it for about 20 minutes. I honestly didn’t think I could finish the race.
I literally said to my mum, “I’m done, I can’t do this”. And then I saw these people coming past and my mum reminded me that Jodie and Taylor were at the finish line waiting for me. So, I just went for it. I walked a couple of miles and then picked up the pace and finished the race. Not the fastest time ever, but that didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to finish it.
In total I’ve raised over £11,200 for St Catherine’s and I’m going to continue raising money. It hasn’t stopped because I’ve lost Lisa, I’ll forever remember the help that the hospice gave her.
The support from the team is brilliant, and Cat in the fundraising team always keeps in touch to see how I am. I love doing things for the charity and meeting lots of other supporters has been great. When you’re in orange, you’re one of the team!
I would say to anyone thinking of running for St Catherine’s, do it. If I can do it, anyone can!