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Thousands of participants will take on the 2024 TCS London Marathon on Sunday 21 April, each with their own powerful reason to run, but for some the event holds particular poignance and significance.

None more so than for those taking part for the 2024 TCS London Marathon Charity of the Year, Samaritans, a charity that provides support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope or at risk of suicide throughout the UK and Northern Ireland. Among those taking part for #TeamSamaritans, are Dave, Tamsin and Roxy.

Dave, 62, from Essex, also known as ‘The Running Telephone’, will be completing his 25th London Marathon for Samaritans and this year has the honour of being the #TeamSamaritans captain. Having contacted Samaritans himself when experiencing suicidal thoughts, and been a listening volunteer, Dave knows first-hand how life-saving the service can be.

He said: “Running for Samaritans is both a privilege and a pleasure. It is easier to run 26.2 miles than to take a call as a Samaritan volunteer. I am as passionate about Samaritans’ mission today as I was when I crossed the start line for my first London Marathon in 1999.

“I called Samaritans a few times but eventually I pulled myself out of it. What it did teach me, is that simply talking can help you to find a way out. It doesn’t matter where you are there is someone to listen to you. That’s why I am always on that start line as a telephone.”

Joining him will be Tamsin, 53, a Samaritans volunteer who is serving in the Royal Air Force and identifies as a gay woman. Tamsin has struggled with her mental health and has experienced suicidal thoughts because of her sexuality. Volunteering as a Samaritan is Tamsin’s way of offering support to anyone feeling lost or suffering the effects of trauma.

Roxy, 30, from Blackburn, will join Dave, Tamsin and the hundreds of other people running as part of #TeamSamaritans, when she takes on her first TCS London Marathon as a ‘mental elf’. Roxy hopes to raise awareness of the importance of opening up and talking when you are struggling, having first used Samaritans services when she found herself on a dark mental path following the death of her grandad. Since then, sadly, one of Roxy’s close friends took their own life during the pandemic and she hopes that by raising awareness of the support Samaritans can offer to those struggling, she will help to save lives.

The Start Line of the 2024 TCS London Marathon will feature an array of participants, all with further inspiring stories. Below is just a selection of those who will join #TeamSamaritans on Sunday 21 April.

Julie McElroy, from Glasgow

Julie is aiming to be the first female frame runner to complete the TCS London Marathon.

Born in Glasgow with cerebral palsy, Julie has faced and overcome many unique challenges throughout her life. Her quest for inclusion, and passion for sport, have come together in her biggest challenge yet: this year’s TCS London Marathon.

Frame running allows individuals with mobility challenges to run using specially designed frames. It has afforded Julie increased independence, confidence, and enhanced social inclusion in events that otherwise would have been impossible for her. Julie began frame running two years ago in Glasgow and now hopes that by showcasing her own achievements at mass participation events, she will encourage and inspire others to feel that there is space for them in events like the TCS London Marathon.

Julie will be running for the Richard Whitehead Foundation, whose mission is to create social change using the power of sport to inspire people with a disability.

Ellie Hudson, 39, from Ely

A self-confessed running novice, Ellie will be running her first TCS London Marathon in April, for the charity Action Medical Research for Children, which funds research into incurable diseases.

Ellie’s six-year-old son, Finley, was diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) aged just three-months-old. DBA is an incurable disease that primarily affects the bone marrow; people with the condition often also have physical abnormalities affecting various parts of the body. The major function of bone marrow is to produce new blood cells, but in DBA, the bone marrow malfunctions and fails to make enough red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body’s tissues – just 125 people suffer from DBA in the UK.

Since his birth, Finley has suffered with cardiac issues, has been diagnosed profoundly deaf, and contracted meningitis twice. Throughout Finley’s medical issues, Ellie was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and she credits her young son with inspiring her to keep going during her own treatments.

Finley has faced life and death so many times and has come through all of it magnificently and will require many more medical interventions as he develops, but he is Ellie’s hero. Her hope is that by taking part in the 2024 TCS London Marathon she will increase awareness of this rare disease and raise funds that can be used to help find a cure.

Craig Vaughan, 37, from Leeds

Craig, and his friend Ryan, will be taking part in the 2024 TCS London Marathon in memory of his son, Archie Vaughan, who died in 2021, aged three years old. Neither Craig nor Ryan have ever run a marathon before, but they will be putting all their efforts into training and fundraising for Archie’s Caravan – a charity set up in Archie’s memory which provides free holidays for families with children affected by cancer.

Archie arrived on Christmas Day in 2017, a little brother for Craig’s older children, Lily and Harry, and their family was complete. Things started to change for Archie in June 2021, and although he was still a happy, chatty little boy, his head started to tilt to one side. After visiting the doctors, and then the hospital, Archie was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.

Following a 10-hour operation in July 2021, and a quick recovery, the family left hospital and went to Archie’s favourite place – the beach. During his illness, Archie’s family continued to make memories together, including day trips, parties, holidays to Spain, a Disney cruise and a visit from the local fire brigade.

However, when his medical team discovered that Archie’s tumour was in his brainstem, and too dangerous to operate on, he was placed on palliative care and sadly passed away at home in November 2021.

The family raised £70,000 for Archie’s potential treatment and following his death, the money was eventually used to buy Archie’s Caravan, helping families with children affected by cancer have a free break when they are going through the unthinkable.

Craig says their family will keep doing all they can in Archie’s memory to help others – including running the 2024 TCS London Marathon to raise more funds for Archie’s Caravan.

Callum Yorston, 28, from London

Callum is hoping to raise as much as he can for Tommy’s, the pregnancy and baby loss charity, when he runs the 2024 TCS London Marathon in April. Tommy’s funds research into the causes and prevention of miscarriage, prematurity, and stillbirth.

Callum’s partner, Hannah, has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Among other things, this often makes conceiving a baby difficult. After years of trying to become parents, Callum and Hannah turned to their GP for help. They were referred to the LOCI medical trial which investigates how to assist women with PCOS to become (and remain) pregnant. The trial is supported by Tommy’s.

Three months into treatment, the couple found out Hannah was pregnant. They were over the moon because something they had almost given up hope on seemed within reach again. Sadly though, on 20 April 2023, they were told the baby hadn’t developed as hoped, and another scan a week later confirmed that Hannah had suffered a miscarriage. It was a whirlwind of physical pain and decision making that Callum and Hannah weren’t prepared for. Throughout their grief, they found Tommy’s to be incredibly helpful in explaining next steps, answering questions and helping them come to terms with their loss.

The 2023 TCS London Marathon took place the day after they discovered Hannah had miscarried and, to distract himself from the grief, Callum wandered down to watch the runners pass through Greenwich. He felt inspired and entered the ballot for 2024.

He was successful and will be running to promote the work of Tommy’s and to encourage more people to speak about their own experiences of baby loss – each year there are around 200,000 miscarriages in the UK and one in four pregnancies end in loss or complications.

Kiko Rutter, 83, from Farnham

Kiko is an 83-year-old retired surgeon who is running his third London Marathon this April. He is raising money for a small mission hospital on Vella Lavella, one of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, which his father ran from 1938 to 1942. Kiko was born there in 1940, but left the island in the Second World War, before returning in 1944 when his father set up the new medical service on the islands. The small hospital is still there today, and Kiko is very keen to support it financially.

Kiko and his wife tried to sail to the Solomons with medical equipment in their yacht in 1998, but when in Vanuatu, only a day’s sail away from the islands, they were advised by the Foreign Office not to continue due to serious ethnic violence. So, they turned left for Australia and finally got back to the UK in 2004 – leaving them with unfinished business. Kiko tends to return to the islands after running a marathon, taking with him the money he has raised.

In 2018, Kiko ran the Nottingham Marathon, raising £23,000 and enough to equip the school on Vella Lavella with a computer department and a science laboratory. In December 2022, he ran in a marathon at Goodwood, and on this occasion raised £21,000 to provide the same hospital he was born in with a large solar panel power generation system.

Kiko visited the island last year, planning the project with the hospital manager, and this year he hopes to raise enough money to give the hospital a battery bank to help it retain the power generated during the day, for running the hospital at night.

At 83, Kiko expects this will be his last London Marathon, so he intends to make the most of it and enjoy the experience. He also hopes to raise more than £20,000 for charity once again.

Thomas Eller, 43, from Essen, Germany

Thomas is a deaf-born runner hailing from Essen, Germany. In 2023, he etched his name in the history of the global deaf community by becoming the world’s first deaf-born Abbott World Marathon Majors Six-Star medal finisher in Tokyo. Taking it a step further, he completed all six major races – Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City – in a single calendar year, earning the esteemed title of the world’s first deaf-born World Marathon Majors Slam finisher.

Beyond personal triumphs, Thomas is a deaf teacher. He works at the David Ludwig Bloch School located in Essen, Germany, teaching English, Maths, and Geography. During his lessons he uses both spoken language and sign language to provide his deaf students with the opportunity to choose the communication method they prefer.

His students, aged 12 to 14, are primarily refugees from war zones. Being their deaf role model, Thomas says he strives to inspire them by demonstrating that despite being deaf, they can actively participate in the community, communicate effectively, and achieve great things. Building a bridge between the deaf and hearing communities is a central goal of Thomas’ work and he says that after each marathon, he enjoys sharing his experiences with his class to help boost their own self-confidence and empower them to take up physical activity. This, to Thomas, is Deaf Empowerment.

Thomas is committed to making mass participation events more accessible and inclusive for the deaf community. Though his disability may be invisible, Thomas sees himself as a bridge between the hearing and deaf communities, exemplifying that deaf individuals can accomplish monumental feats. His aim is to inspire others, particularly his deaf students, by serving as their role model.

The TCS London Marathon holds a special place in Thomas’ heart, providing him with a unique platform to address the world and demonstrate that deaf individuals can transform dreams into reality.