TEACHER James Laycock is getting ready to run almost 24 miles in memory of his niece and a little girl he never even met.
The big-hearted 26-year-old will run for Hannah’s Holiday Home, a charity set up in memory of Hannah Westbrook who died of Hogkin’s disease aged 10 in 2004.
She was a pupil at Padnell Junior School, in Waterlooville, where James is a Year 4 teacher and where he now teaches Hannah’s cousin Hollie Westbrook.
But James has experienced tragedy first hand. His niece Sophie Laycock died of leukaemia at only four months old.
The run will begin at 7am on July 11 at the Piam Brown ward at Southampton General Hospital, the specialist children’s cancer ward where both girls were treated, to his school.
He said: ‘Hannah’s Holiday Home is a fantastic charity and the whole school is behind it.
‘I lost my niece to leukaemia so I know how hard it is for families and I wanted to help others who are in the same position – families that need a break away from everything to be able to chill out together.’
So far James has only run up to 15 miles in training but he is confident he can reach the 23.6 miles he needs to do.
And James is hoping to complete it at around 11am when he is due back at school where he will not doubt get a warm welcome from staff and pupils.
He added: ‘The children in my class have been keeping me in check and making sure I do all my training.
‘I put a plan up on the wall and every day they ask if I’ve done my training.
‘My class have been great. ‘They have made posters about it and taken sponsorship forms home to their families.’
Padnell is one of seven schools in the area who have named Hannah’s Holiday Home as their charity of the year.
The two holiday homes, one in the New Forest and one in Hayling Island, are very busy with families enjoying some time together without having to worry about hospital appointments.
While she was ill Hannah raised an incredible £10,000 for the Piam Brown ward.
Hannah’s mum Pam Marshall, from Horndean, is the founder of the charity.
Pam said: ‘It’s fantastic that James is putting himself out like this and training so hard.
‘He has really been raising awareness of the charity and by him doing that it encourages the children to go all out too. They look up to and respect him.
‘Hannah was a pupil at Padnell Junior School and her cousin Hollie is there now.’
To donate to the charity go to hannahsappeal.org.uk
To sponsor James go to charitygiving.co.uk/hannahshomerun