After years of trying to enter the iconic race through the public ballot, Deirdre Howell received the call up for last year’s event just after the death of her husband Kenneth, aged 90.
Lee-on-the-Solent resident Deirdre, 68, will take on the challenge when it returns to the streets of London this October to raise funds in the musician’s memory for charity Music for All.
Deirdre was married to Ken for 20 years, and they were together for 43 years in total, before he passed away in November 2019.
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Keen runner Deirdre said: ‘Ken was such a wonderful person, everybody loved him. We had such a happy marriage.
‘It was just weird that after years of trying to get into the London Marathon, after he passed away I got the letter and got through on my own ballot.’
As the usual London Marathon was postponed last year due to the pandemic, Deirdre took on the virtual challenge and pounded the streets around Lee-on-the-Solent and Hill Head in stormy weather.
Deirdre raised more than £1,000 through last year’s efforts for her charity of choice, Music for All.
This good cause, which is for people who want to learn to play an instrument but cannot afford to, resonated with Deirdre because Ken was a talented trumpet and flugelhorn player who was still performing up to the age of 90.
For more than 20 years, carpenter and joiner Ken ran The Southern Dance Orchestra, which has now changed its name to The Ken Howell Big band.
This is not Deirdre’s first foray into fundraising, or even marathon running.
Since her sister died of breast cancer in 2001, Deirdre has taken on various marathons, cycled to Paris and back four times, ran the Great South Run and completed four midnight MoonWalks.
On her retirement from the University of Portsmouth in 2016, Deirdre estimated that through her endurance events and bake sales at work, she raised roughly £13,000 over the years.
Deirdre is hoping to raise plenty of money to pay tribute to her husband, and goes out running for up to 10 miles each day in training for the London Marathon on October 3.
Visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DeirdreHowell to donate.