The men’s suits manager at a Wrexham department store has fitted himself out as a marathon man to raise cash in memory of his mum and his aunt who both died from cancer.

Phil Roberts saw the two sisters lose their separate battles with the disease within a few months of each other last year.

And now 28-year-old Phil, who works at Debenhams in the Eagles Meadow shopping centre, is swapping his smart business two-piece for running gear to compete in the Chester Half Marathon on May 21 to raise cash for Wrexham’s Nightingale House Hospice which cared for his aunt in her final days.

Phil, who lives in Acrefair, Wrexham, said: “My aunt, Denise Lancaster, died from lung cancer last April at the age of just 57.

“In the last few weeks of her life she received some excellent care at Nightingale House and my mum, Belinda Roberts, who was her sister, had intended to do some fundraising for the hospice as a way of saying thank you to them.

“But then she was also told she had cancer which of course meant she couldn’t do anything. She died last September at the age of 49 just four weeks after getting her own diagnosis.

“Actually, she was the third of the sisters, who all came from Coedpoeth near Wrexham, to die from cancer because my other aunt, Michelle, lost her own fight with lung cancer at 41 about 13 years ago.”

Phil added: “After mum died my dad, Steve Roberts, set up his own Forget Me Not Tribute fund to raise money in her memory for Nightingale House.

“In a year it’s reached around half of the £5,000 target he set with things like a family charity quiz at the Golden Lion pub in Coedpoeth, which raised over £1,000 in January.

“Now I suppose you could say I’ve taken up the baton by running the Chester Half Marathon later this month.”

Phil, who worked in various sales departments at the Debenhams store in Eagles Meadow since it opened in 2008 before becoming suits manager, added: “I’ve never done any marathon running before so this will be my first time.

“I was a sprinter when I was at school but that’s a different style of running altogether and I’ve had to come up with a completely fresh training regime.

“For the past few months I’ve been training three times a week, with a couple of sessions in the gym and at least one run.

“I’ve been gradually building up the distance I do by about half a mile a week. Last week I eventually got to 10 miles and they say that when you reach 12 miles you should stop there and leave the full 13.1 miles half marathon distance until the day, probably so you save yourself a bit.

“I reckon that I’m now ready and I’m looking forward to the event – I think!

“I reckon the first couple of miles will be the hardest and after that you get into your own rhythm for the rest of the race.

“The good thing is I won’t be doing it alone because I’ll have a friend of mine, Beth Roberts, who is 25 and also used to work in sales at Debenhams Eagles Meadow, running alongside me.

“I’ve set myself the goal of finishing within two hours and have a target of raising £500, so I hope I can do well because Nightingale House is such a fantastic cause and I’ll be running with my mum and my aunt in mind.”

Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “I take my hat off to Phil for going the extra miles to raise money for such a wonderful organisation.

“Nightingale House is a fantastic hospice and provides a vital service when families need it most.”

You can sponsor Phil’s half marathon run by going to his dad Steve’s fundraising page at: