WHEN Ian Mulry started training for the Chicago Marathon it was for his stepfather who was seriously ill having suffered a stroke.
But sadly, just two weeks before the race, Dennis died from complications from the massive stroke he had in May.
It was so severe he had only been able to return to his Rowlands Castle home for a week before being readmitted.
Ian and his family were overwhelmed by the help given to Dennis Churchill by the Stroke Association.
The marathon, on October 13, has now taken on extra poignancy for Mr Mulry, an electrical engineer, who is hoping to raise hundreds of pounds for the charity.
The 40-year-old, said: ‘Dennis had been in hospital since May and was really suffering.
‘About a week ago they told us he may only have a few days.
‘My mum is managing to hold up but it is so sad.
‘Before the stroke Dennis was always out, enjoying the garden. He was so friendly and very well known in the village because he had lived and worked there all his life.
‘The stroke was devastating. It was horrific. It was the left side of his brain so it affected the right side of his body.
‘He wasn’t even able to swallow. He came home for five days but ended up with pneumonia. It was so sad to see him like that.’
Mr Mulry’s mother Jean has received huge support from the Stroke Association who have been providing practical help while her husband was in hospital.
Now Mr Mulry wants to pay them back by undertaking one of the six major marathons – having conquered the London marathon in 2007.
He said: ‘It’s a lot of hard work but it will be worth it.
‘Even though all this is happening I still have to train. And I’ll be thinking of Dennis all the way.
‘I’m aiming to do the marathon in under four hours.
‘It’s meant having to give up chocolate and drinking alcohol for six weeks but it’s a small sacrifice to make.’
Mr Churchill, 76, died in Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, on Tuesday.
He was born in Idsworth and worked all his life for Keyline lorries, in Rowlands Castle.
He has eight step-grandchildren from Mr Mulry and his brother Alan.
To support Mr Mulry go to justgiving.com/chicago2013.