Funeral company project manager to tackle marathon to support charity close to his heart

An experienced funeral professional is set to take on a gruelling marathon to support a charity which has supported a long-standing colleague.

Simon Roberts, 53, has secured a place in the Hamburg Marathon on April 28, and will be raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

An Operations Project Manager at Funeral Partners – the country’s third largest funeral business – Simon has chosen the charity because his colleague and friend Jerry Bentley, who is the Diary Manager for East London at the company, is living with the incurable disease which affects the brain and spinal cord.

Simon, who is a keen runner, completed the London Marathon nearly 20 years ago, and is looking forward to another attempt at the 26-mile challenge in the coming weeks.

He said: “I didn’t think I’d be doing another marathon at my age, but as I’ve got into the training, I have enjoyed it.

“At this stage, I’m not striving for a time to impress anyone or anything like that, it’s just about the achievement of completing the distance.

“I am hoping that on the day the crowds and the other participants will help give me a boost – there’s 25,000 people doing it so it should be a great experience.

“I chose the charity because I have known Jerry for a number of years – we used to work very closely together – and know they do great work for him, and people who are in similar positions.

“He’s someone I’ve known for 15 years or so and we’ve always got on brilliantly.

“If I end up with aching legs and some blisters, it’s still nothing compared to what Jerry and others like him are going through.”

The team at WH Putnam Funeral Directors also raised £6,500 for the North London branch of the MND Association last year, with a race night and sport-themed auction.

Simon, who lives in Lowestoft, has already raised hundreds of pounds for the cause, and said every donation would be greatly appreciated.

“There’s not a set amount I need to raise to keep my place, but because it is a personal thing for me and for Jerry, every pound that I can raise will make a difference,” he said.

Denise Davies, Head of Community Fundraising at the MND Association, said: “Without our amazing supporters like Simon, the MND Association simply would not be able to provide the vital support services, raise awareness and campaign for service improvement and fund research to find a cure. Together we are making a real difference for people facing this devastating disease.”

“For example, with £1,000 we can pay for a detailed analysis of the DNA of someone with MND to help take us closer to finding a cure or pay for a text to speech device to give someone with MND the ability to continue to communicate with their loved ones. Such a special gift.”

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