A RUNNER has launched a fundraising drive to take on the London Marathon in memory of her grandfather.

Nicola Dallinger, 30, of Heybridge, is attempting her first marathon at next year’s race in April.

To take on the challenge, Nicola is organising a Christmas craft and gift fair at Maldon Town Hall to raise money for Farleigh Hospice.

She said she took up the challenge because it had been on her list of things to do since before she had her first daughter.

Nicola said: “I have been sporty all my life, beginning with dancing when I was five through to 22, and joining as many sports clubs as possible at school, ranging from netball and football to hockey, athletics and rounders.

“Even though I did a couple of school and Air Cadet cross country competitions during this time, it wasn’t until I had my first daughter in 2015 that I really started running, though then it was mainly for fitness and shifting the baby weight.

“I did a few 10ks and two half marathons, before having my second daughter in 2017.

“Since then I have got back into running even more, have done many more races, including another two half marathons and am now ready to start my first full marathon.

“After I did my first half, I thought I’d never be able to do double that distance, but after my amazing mum completed her first marathon in 2017 aged 54, it really spurred me on to actually finally complete one myself.

“I have the opportunity to volunteer at the London Marathon, which I have been lucky to do three times.

“The atmosphere there is incredible. The runners are so inspiring and the crowd is just so unforgivingly supportive.

“I applied for charity places close to me personally, such as the Royal British Legion, Stroke Association, Mind, Asthma UK and Farleigh Hospice.”

Nicola chose a charity place with Farleigh because of how important they were in caring for her grandfather before his death in 2012 and her husband’s grandmother before she died in 2013.

She added: “I am feeling really apprehensive yet super excited for next year’s race.

“When I got the marathon place with Farleigh I bounded around the kitchen and phoned my husband straight away.”

Nicola’s goal is to raise £2,000 as soon as possible so she can concentrate on her training for the run.

The fair will be on Sunday, December 22 from 11am to 2pm and will feature stalls with handcrafted gifts, festive music, and an appearance from Father Christmas.

Entry is free and a visit to Santa’s grotto costs £3 per child.

For details, email nlbb@hotmail.co.uk.