A bakery worker has been inspired by the memory of his much-loved grandparents to raise money for a hospice by taking part in a half marathon.
Thomas Kellaway, 25, from Buckley, is in training for the annual Village Bakery Half Marathon in Wrexham which is expected to attract a record entry of 2,000 runners from across the UK.
The event has been sponsored by the Village Bakery since it started more than 20 years ago.
All the finishers will receive a packet of the family firm’s best-selling crumpets or Welsh Cakes.
They will also be presented with a medal emblazoned with a Welsh dragon.
Thomas is one of five members of staff from the Village Bakery who taking part in the race that was founded by their now retired engineering manager Peter Norman.
Joining Thomas on the start line on Sunday, February 18, will be colleagues Simon Thorpe, Liz Totty, Mike Sheen and Florence Roberts.
They will be running to raise money for the town’s Nightingale House Hospice.
It’s going to be a deeply personal occasion for Thomas because his grandmother, Agnes Rotchell, who lived in Stafford, was looked after in her final days at a hospice.
He explained: “Both my grandparents passed away two years ago, within seven months of each other, so it was a really difficult time for us as a family.
“Hospices are remarkable places and my Nan received wonderful care in her local hospice.
“I think raising money for Nightingale House is a really good way of honouring their memory.
“The training is going well and I am aiming to finish in around two hours.”
Colleague Simon Thorpe, 43, has been in training since last September.
He said: “It was 23 years ago when I last tried running a sensible distance.
“There was a bit of peer pressure for me to take part and it seemed like a good idea at the time, and now it’s very much becoming a reality.
“I won’t be anywhere near the front but I certainly aim to complete it and be able to hold my head high from that point of view.
“I go out running once or twice a week and I have lost about two stone in weight. That wasn’t the aim but I’m now a lot fitter and healthier.”
Race organiser Mike Harrington, from Cute Fruit Events, who manages the race in partnership with Wrexham Athletics Club, is delighted with the increasing popularity of the event.
He said: “We’re expecting it to sell out in the next couple of weeks. People love the course. It’s fast, it’s flat, it’s a mixture of rural and town.
“The crumpets and the Welsh Cakes are very popular with the runners. It’s a worthy reward for all that effort!
“It’s really popular because we have people who are doing spring marathons, the Manchester Marathon and the London Marathon. They use this as a good indication of where they are as part of their training plan.
“The majority of the seasoned runners will have a 16 to 18 week training plan, and this half marathon fits right in the middle, so people can assess their fitness and see where they are in terms of their own marathon training.
“Having the support of the Village Bakery is fantastic. No matter how much you try to put the location into the name, people refer to it as the Village Bakery Half Marathon.
“It’s going to be a record entry this year and the prize will reflect that, so the first male and the first female will each win £500.
“That’s attracting runners from farther afield, from Leicestershire and Cumbria and Durham.”
Village Bakery managing director Robin Jones said: “We’re delighted the event is going from strength to strength.
“They’re heading for another record entry of 2,000 runners this year so we’re going to be busy making crumpets and Welsh Cakes for all the finishers.
“It started off with very humble beginning when it was founded by our then engineering manager Peter Norman.
“It’s grown into a fantastic event that’s helping to put Wrexham on the map so we are proud to be associated with them.
“We’ve even got some of our suppliers and customers taking part this year, one guy is coming all the way from London and another is coming from South Wales.
“I’m also very proud of our fab five members of staff who are going to be raising money for Nightingale House which is a fantastic place providing a much-needed service when people need it most.”
Nightingale House Hospice provides specialist palliative care services, free-of-charge, to patients and their families across a wide area stretching from Wrexham, Flintshire and East Denbighshire to Barmouth and border towns including Oswestry and Whitchurch.
Services include a 12 bed inpatient ward, a 15 patient daycare unit, an outpatient clinic, occupational therapy, complementary therapies, physiotherapy including a hydrotherapy pool and a Monday drop in where people can attend for advice and support.
And a range of bereavement support services are offered including a specialist service for children and young adults.
To find out more about Nightingale House Hospice please visit www.nightingalehouse.co.uk