A KEEN runner from Worcester who will be celebrating his 50th birthday later this year is among a group of people taking on the London Marathon next month in aid of St Richard's Hospice.

John Birbeck will be running the marathon on Sunday, April 13 for the third time in aid of the Worcester charity, which cares for people suffering from cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The contracts manager, who is an avid runner and boxer, said he had been training hard for the event and was looking forward to joining the tens of thousands of people taking to the streets of the capital in the name of charity.

“Everyone has been brilliant about sponsoring me," he said. "As soon as you mention it’s for St Richard’s they put their hands in their pockets to donate.”

Scheduling team manager with Worcestershire Community Housing Matt Rendall is also taking on the challenge, having taken up running just eight months ago and completed his first marathon in January.

The 30-year-old said: "I decided to support St Richard’s because of the fantastic care, advice and support the hospice staff provide to individuals and families in Worcestershire.

"They make a real difference."

Kate Harding from Malvern will be running in memory of her later father Bryan Bassett, who spent his last days being cared for at the hospice.

“My dad had a good death thanks to the care, respect and understanding shown by the wonderful staff at the hospice," she said. "My aim is to raise £2,500 for St Richard’s although it’s worth a million.”

Manager of The New Inn in Ombersley Road Keith Newby is running in memory of two friends - mother and daughter Cynthia and Sarah Leather, who were both cared for at the hospice.

The 39-year-old said he did not know what was in store for him when he started training.

"I couldn’t run a bath, let alone a marathon," he said.

"But loving Cynthia and seeing the pain cancer causes families, there’s no way I could refuse.

"I’m also very grateful for all the help from personal trainer Rachel Orme.”

Finance director and long-time runner Richard Couzens is also running in support of the charity, having.

He said: "My wife is from Worcestershire and I have raised funds for St Richard’s in the past.

"I think that hospices provide incredible support to people needing care and the bedded unit is a much needed facility in the county."

Also running for St Richard’s are Lorraine Gelder from Claines, Peter Evans and Darren Huggins from Droitwich, Peter Rhodes from Evesham, Russ Barnes from Kidderminster and Keelie Graves from Essex.

To donate to any member of the team or for more information on St Richard's Hospice visit strichards.org.uk