AFTER losing three members of his family in three years, a policeman is taking on the London Marathon.
PC Neil Cotton, from Portsmouth, is determined to keep his relatives’ memories alive by raising money for charities.
The 46-year-old said: ‘I’m not a runner. I take the dog for a walk and do a bit of cycling. Now when I train, I’m running further than ever before in my life.’
Neil’s life was turned upside down when his dad, Malcolm, was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
He said: ‘He and my mum had bought a place in France and had lots to look forward to but in December 2014, aged 61, dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer which spread to his liver.
‘He passed away less than a month later and suddenly the world was turned upside down.’
In 2016, Neil’s sister Lisa Jouan lost her seven-year battle against breast cancer and died, aged 47, leaving a husband and three children.
The father-of-two said: ‘My sister described her cancer as a green monster. She felt she would defeat it when she died because the monster would be destroyed but her memory would live on.’
The following year, Neil’s father-in-law, George Hemmings, died after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He described the 88-year-old as a ‘gentle man’ who ‘always had a smile’.
In tribute, Neil will be running the marathon on April 22 for Bowel & Cancer Research, Against Breast Cancer and the Prostate Cancer Research Centre.
Neil described his father, sister and father-in-law as ‘extraordinary human beings’.
‘They were cheerful, loving, unbelievably strong and always put their family and friends before themselves,’ Neil added.
Neil is following a training plan for the race and hopes to finish the 26.2 miles in four-and-and-a-half hours.
He said: ‘I’ve stopped eating biscuits and am following a training plan.
‘The worst bits are when my calf muscles turn to concrete and when the kids go on to Alexa to choose music on Spotify – their tunes wreck my rhythm!’
Chief executive of Bowel & Cancer Research, Deborah Gilbert, thanked Neil for his support.
Neil added: ‘Losing three loved ones in such a short space of time makes it feel as if your life is crumbling around you, but it also makes you determined to live life to the full.
n To donate to Neil’s cause visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NeilCotton.