Garstang’s Iron Man Chris Horner is used to helping to raise funds for others.
But this week the well known local fire station boss has a special plea - he is asking local runners to turn out to help raise funds for the hospital where his teenage son Richard is recovering after a bone marrow transplant.
Richard, 14, from Scorton was admitted to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital on January 9 and hopes to be allowed home later this week.
Chris, unit manager of Garstang Fire Station, as well as an Incident Commander/Station Manager at Springfields Fuels Ltd, is a keen athlete who has twice clinched an Iron Man triathalon title.
Asa member of Garstang Running Club he is now Race Director for the club’s annual seven mile Garstang Gallop which takes place at 11 am on March 22.
This year all race proceeds are being donated to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity. The charity is raising funds for the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMTU) where Richard has been treated.
Richard has suffered from a blood disorder since he was a few months old and has been regularly monitored and treated at the hospital, (formerly called Pendlebury Hospital). But when his condition worsened last year his family was advised that he would need a bone marrow transplant.
Fortunately his younger sister Jennifer proved the perfect match and she bravely volunteered to be a donor.
Chris and wife Gillian have taken it in turns to be at Garstang Community Academy pupil Richard’s bedside during the gruelling weeks since his transplant.
Both Jennifer and brother Matthew, 12, were keen to donate marrow. Chris recalled how it turned out Jennifer was an ideal match: ”Both of them said they wanted to help Richard. We didn’t make her. It was down to Jennifer...I think she saved his life, she’s a hero.”
After donating her marrow on a Thursday Jennifer returned to school in record time and was back at her desk at Scorton Primary School on the Monday.
Chris said: “They finished taking (the marrow transplant) out of Jen at 11.30am and it was going back in Richard at 2pm.”
Richard also had to undergo chemotherapy and was in isolation for some four weeks, occupying his time building lego models as he became fitter.
Chris has paid tribute to the “brilliant” staff at the hospital, family and friends who have rallied to support the family.
He said Richard has been brave in coping with his treatment: “We’ve just had to be strong for him .... he’s been very strong.”
“He is only just starting to eat now. It will be nice to eat round the table as a family again. Richard is looking forward to home cooked meals (made) by his mum!”
He said people had been shocked to learn of Richard’s condition: “I think people were quite shocked he had to have a bone marrow transplant. He has always looked quite well - we’ve kept it to ourselves.”
The RMCH ’s charity mascot, Humphrey the bear will be the race starter for the Garstang Gallop and will also be cheering on runners before handing out medals to every participant.
Chris added: “As a family we wanted to give something back to the hospital which has treated Richard over the years. We know what difference money raised will make to BMTU.”
* The Garstang Gallop is open to members and non-members of the club, aged 16 plus , with prizes for the first five male and first five female runners home, as well as awards for best veterans in age groups up to 70+
For more information about the Garstang Gallop visit http://www.garstangrc.co.uk/ or call Chris on 07769 169 330