A Denbigh agricultural student is to run the London marathon to raise money for the unit where her grandfather is being treated for skin cancer.
Stephanie Hughes, 20, will tackle the race in support of her granddad, George Brookes, 94, who is currently being treated at the North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.
The former Howells Independent School and Rydal Penrhos Independent School 6th former says she wants to raise as much as she can as a way of thanking staff at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board-run unit for the brilliant treatment he has received.
Stephanie, who is studying agricultural management at the Royal Agricultural University at Cirencester, is among thousands who will take part in the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 24.
She said: “My grandfather has had amazing treatment at the North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre.
“Everyone has been fantastic, kind and helpful. I wanted to do the marathon to support granddad and raise as much as I can for the North Wales Cancer Appeal, which raises money for the North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre.
“I’ve got a target of £2,000 and have already raised £1,500.
“It’s my first marathon and I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve run 15 miles so far in training but haven’t pushed myself to the full marathon distance yet.
“I’m not aiming for a particular time, I’ll just be glad to get around and enjoy the atmosphere. It’s really all about raising money for what is a brilliant cause.”
Stephanie, who won her golden entry place for the Virgin Money London Marathon with the help of her family through an auction, says her mum, Rachel, her dad Phillip and big sister Natalie, 22, will be cheering her on in London.
“She said: “I’m probably going to need all the help I can get towards the end! My whole family is behind the fundraising and have helped me to prepare. It’s down to me now and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Rachel Hughes, Stephanie’s mum, said: “We are all proud of Stephanie who has put a great deal of effort into training for the marathon.
“My father, George Brookes, who also lives in Denbigh, has been treated at the North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre having been diagnosed with skin cancer. He’s 94 year-of-age but has had wonderful treatment.
“The staff and consultants have been amazing and we can’t thank them enough.
“We are so pleased Stephanie is raising funds for the North Wales Cancer Appeal, as the North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd is an institution all of North Wales can be rightly proud of.”
Also among those running for the North Wales Cancer Appeal are former Everton and Wrexham footballer Barry Horne, and Colwyn Bay businessman John Jones of Powlsons Ltd, who is running in memory of his father who was treated at the North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre.
Barry, who is from St Asaph and went to school in Flint, has vowed to complete the marathon to raise money for North Wales cancer patients, despite developing a back injury during training.
He said: “It isn’t about times or personal goals it’s about raising as much as I can for a very worthy cause.
“I just hope I get around the London Marathon course but I’m sure the crowds will give all the runners plenty of encouragement.”
Carmel Barnett, Radiotherapy Services Manager at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s (BCUHB) North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre, says she is delighted all the runners including Stephanie have agreed to run the Virgin Money London Marathon.
She said: “Over the years those running the marathon and raising funds for the centre have donated many thousands of pounds.
“That money has been used to help fund the purchase of two linear accelerators, a CT scanner and other complex and expensive equipment.
“We are so grateful to each and every runner. They all do an amazing job and I wish Stephanie well and hope she gets safely around the course.”
The North Wales Cancer Treatment Centre was founded after a fundraising campaign by Ron and Margaret Smith, and at first served just people from the immediate area but now serves the whole of North Wales.
Carmel said: “Ron and Margaret Smith campaigned for the centre to be built, after Ron Smith was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 and wanted to be treated here in Wales.
“The couple raised a huge amount of money and campaigned in London and Cardiff to get a cancer treatment centre here in North Wales.
“Sadly Ron passed away from cancer and, although Margaret was diagnosed with cancer and was treated here, she died in an accident and not from cancer. However, Ron and Margaret’s legacy lives on.”
“The charity name was changed to the North Wales Cancer Appeal last year to better reflect what we do, but Ron and Margaret Smith’s contribution will never be forgotten.
She added: “We were initially allocated just two Marathon golden entry tickets some years ago, but that has now risen to six. Entry to the London Marathon is so difficult and we are really grateful to have these guaranteed places.”