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Spotlight on our London Marathon 2024 Runners

Meet some of the intrepid people running this year’s London Marathon in support of The Brain Tumour Charity.

Our London Marathon 2024 runners share their stories

See why some of our brave London Marathon 2024 runners are taking on one of the world’s most iconic marathons. Here we’ll introduce you to Aimi, Zac, Joe and Tony, Stacey and Jo. And Andy and Sarah, and share their stories.

Aimi’s Story

“Even if I have to walk most of the miles, I WILL complete this!”


Aimi, a travel agent from Huntingdon, was diagnosed with a low grade glioma in December 2018, while pregnant with her second child. Running the marathon is going to be a huge challenge, but one she can’t wait to tackle.

Aimi said: “I will never forget the day my local hospital told me the news. I remember the consultant’s words so clearly: “You have a brain tumour and it is likely cancerous.”  

“I had zero knowledge about brain tumours.  I didn’t even realise they are graded 1 to 4.

 “The consultant advised that I was to be referred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.  I remember being in a side room feeding George and sobbing.

“All I could think about was the children and how much they needed me. I had lots of nights crying thinking I was going to die. And I instantly stopped breastfeeding because I thought I would have to start treatment.”

Happily, the specialists at Addenbrooke’s gave Aimi better news. Aimi’s tumour was found to be calcified – meaning it’s been there a long time, most likely since childhood. Because of its location, surgery is not an option and instead Aimi has regular scans to monitor it. 

Living with the tumour caused its own problems, though. Aimi had to take epileptic medication after suffering seizures on her return to work after maternity leave.

Taking on the marathon after her health problems is a daunting challenge. But Aimi is determined to do her bit to raise funds, and awareness of brain tumours. She said:

“I wasn’t a regular runner before applying for a place. Over the years I have done the Couch to 5k programme a few times, my knees have always stopped me in my tracks though. The same old knee pain has reared its ugly head but I am powering through. 

“My training has been a mix of highs and lows. I am incredibly proud of myself, my mind is definitely stronger than my body. 

“As the miles have increased, my health is playing on my mind. I have to resist going all in like most people can. It’s frustrating, but I know my body’s warning signs and I am definitely listening.

“Even if I have to walk most of the miles, I WILL complete this!”

Aimi’s customised vest

Aimi’s specially customised running vest will be another source of motivation on the day. Printed on the vest are 26 names of people affected by different illnesses, including brain tumours – one for each mile. Aimi said:

“These are people who are sadly no longer with us, those who are fighting a battle now and those who have made it through to the other side and are now living healthily. It’s been emotional and I have felt extremely honoured that people have shared their own stories with me.  

“It’s an absolute honour to be doing this to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity. The statistics on brain tumours are so shocking and I hope my input in raising awareness will help someone else now or in the future.

“I am looking forward to standing on the start line. I know I will feel great pride being there. I want to prove to myself that I am strong, and I can’t wait to show the kids my medal, and for them to be proud of their mum.”

Zac’s Story

“I couldn't run a bath let alone 5k!”

Zac Hurst

Zac, 32, Managing Director at Persimmon Homes Midlands, is running in memory of his cousin, Jack Snow, who died in 2020 after a 10 year battle with a brain tumour.

Zac, from Solihull, is no stranger to tough physical challenges. In 2021, he rowed 21 miles on a rowing machine, to raise funds and awareness of brain tumours. But he had no experience of running – and has been training hard ever since he found out he had a marathon place. Zac explained:

“26 miles will be a huge challenge for me. I have never been a runner! When I got the phone call on the 8th September 2023 to tell me I had been selected to run the London Marathon, I couldn’t run a bath let alone 5k… So, to go from there to where I am today, I couldn’t be prouder of myself.

“I am really looking forward to the whole day. The last 7 months of training have been the real challenge. I have told myself to forget about the time and just take it all in – you only get to experience your first London Marathon once! I’m looking forward to getting a photo on Tower Bridge, too.

“I know the final few miles will be a slog but I have been told that the atmosphere and the crowds cheering you on really keep you going so I’m sure they will drag me through it.

“When things gets tough, I will just remind myself that this is nothing compared to what Jack dealt with and battled through. If he can embrace his challenges with a smile then I certainly should be smiling while doing this!” 

Incredibly, Zac and his friends and family have raised over £70,000 – for The Brain Tumour Charity.

Zac said: ”I set out to raise £25,000 at first, and some people thought I was mad for that, but here we are approaching the £75,000 mark.

“None of the fundraising would have been possible without the generosity of so many friends, family, work colleagues and even the business I work for. They have all been amazing and words will never be able to surmise my appreciation and how much it means to me, my family and the Charity. So a huge thank you to everyone who has donated and supported me.” 

Joe and Tony’s Story

“If this had happened to anyone else, Louie would be the first person at the start line, ready to get involved.” 

Joe Diamond
Louie’s dad Tony, and brother Joe, will run the marathon for Louie

12 months after losing his brother, Louie, to a brain tumour, Joe Diamond, from Oxford, and  Louie’s dad, Joe’s step dad, Tony Palmieri, from Loughborough, are running in his memory.

Louie, 18, was a first-year student at Lincoln University, studying architecture and loving student life. After he started to experience headaches, and balance issues, he had some initial medical tests. But last March, before more tests could be carried out, Louie started to feel faint, and had pins and needles while watching TV one Friday evening. After coming in and out of consciousness he was rushed to hospital. On arrival at Lincoln County Hospital, it was discovered that he had dangerous pressure on his brain. He was transferred to Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, for specialist neurological care, but tragically passed away just three days later.  

Louie’s family are passionate about raising better awareness of brain tumour symptoms and have thrown themselves into fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity since he died. 

Joe, a Senior Partnership Manager at Aston Martin Formula One, said: 

“Louie was very fit and loved his gym work and playing football – he was in great shape. Although he was having tests for his balance issues, at no point did we suspect he might have a brain tumour. 

“He was a bright, funny and incredibly loved member of our family, and a shining light in the lives of all who were lucky enough to meet him. 

“While our hearts remain broken, we made the choice as a family to raise funds and awareness because we know, if this had happened to anyone else, Louie would be the first person at the start line, ready to get involved.” 

Although no stranger to running – he completed the London Marathon in 2018 – Joe has been training hard since his marathon place was confirmed. His job in Formula One takes him all over the world, and therefore Joe has had to complete many of his training runs while away on the Grand Prix circuit. But his team mates have thrown themselves behind his fundraising efforts. In Bahrain earlier this year, 30 colleagues joined him for a sponsored track run. Joe said: 

“I’ve always run casually, two or three times a week. I’d not describe myself as a marathon runner, although I have completed it once before.  

“I’m apprehensive and excited about the race. I know how great the atmosphere is going to be.  

“Doing the marathon in memory of Louie is going to be hugely emotional. Our hearts are in this one.” 

Joe’s Formula One colleagues joined him for a track run in Bahrain
Joe with Louie (centre) and sister Ellie

Running together

Louie’s dad – and Joe’s step dad, Tony – is not a runner, however he too has been training hard with his sister, Louie’s aunt Giulia, who is also running the marathon in his memory.  

Thoughts of Louie will keep all three motivated through all those tough miles. Joe explained: 

“Taking on the marathon for Louie is helping us as a family – it’s really important to us all. 

“When tragic things like this happen I think it’s human nature to try and turn something from a bad experience into a positive.  

“When Louie died, we made the decision to offer his organs for donation.  It’s been comforting to know that his organs helped save another life. It’s something positive in a big sea of heartbreak. 

“We are doing this because we would like to save just one family from going through what we have.”  

Stacey’s Story

“Never in a million years would I have thought I would be doing a marathon! I've had so many ups and downs since my diagnosis.”  

Stacey Duffy

Stacey, 46, found out she had an optic nerve meningioma in June 2021, after a period of having headaches, feeling tired, and experiencing a sensation like she had grit in her eye. Her vision started going blurry too, making it difficult for her at work as an English teaching assistant for SEN children.

Stacey’s tumour was discovered after her optician referred her to the eye clinic at Hull Royal Infirmary. An MRI scan found the mass and Stacey had a craniotomy, but the tumour could not be safely removed as it was too close to her optic nerve, and could have damaged her sight even further. She was advised to have regular scans to monitor things instead. Unfortunately, the surgery caused Stacey to lose the sight in one eye. She said:

“Never in a million years would I have thought I would be doing a marathon! I’ve had so many ups and downs since my diagnosis.

“Every day is a challenge. I have good days and bad days which can last a while. But I try my hardest every day. I get tired very easily, suffer headaches and with the loss of my sight in my right eye I struggle sometimes with everyday tasks which can be disheartening and make me feel useless sometimes. 

“I used to love running but unfortunately I find it harder than I did. I can’t run as far or as fast as I used to, but I try!

“My training is going well but I listen to my body. I know how far too push myself. My body does get tired more easily but each day I train I gain a bit more confidence, and it does make me feel better mentally.” 

Check out Stacey’s fundraising page here:

Stacey’s third fitness challenge!

This is actually Stacey’s third fitness fundraising challenge in support of The Brain Tumour Charity – she completed the first one, a daily walking challenge, just weeks after her craniotomy in 2021.  Stacey discovered the Charity when she searched online following her diagnosis. Since then she has found their digital channels to be an invaluable source of support and information. She said:

“Doing the challenges keeps me motivated – it gives me something to focus on. I like to be busy and keep my mind occupied. The charity has helped me all the way since my craniotomy, and I’m so grateful to them. 

“Taking on the marathon to support them is a great honour. I hope by doing this I can make a small difference. This past 2 and a half years has been tough – not just with my diagnosis and my surgery, but with also losing close family members. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m going to give it all I have.”

Jo’s Story

“I want to show our children how to thrive in the face of adversity and raise some money for a phenomenal charity in the process.”

Jo Souch

Law student Jo Souch, from Swindon, is taking on the marathon 18 months after losing her husband, Alan, to a brain tumour.

Alan underwent multiple surgeries, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and novel treatments in a bid to slow the progression of the disease. During his illness, he remained positive and determined to help others, organising a 10km sponsored walk which raised over £4,000 for The Brain Tumour Charity. But sadly, Alan died 15 months after his diagnosis, leaving behind his two young sons, Oscar and Lucian.

Jo, 39, is not a regular runner, but has thrown herself into training since she found out she had a marathon place. She knows the race is going to be a big challenge. She said:

I ran a half marathon 14 years ago with some work colleagues as a joke – and vowed never to run that distance again! Yet here I am, planning to run twice that!

“I only started running last September when I got the call offering me a place. Training has been hard but I’ve got a structured plan, so it keeps things interesting and varied.

“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere on race day – and being with other runners, for whom the marathon experience means as much as it does to me. I’m dreading the course from about mile 20 onwards. And the pre-race nerves, of course!”

Alan with sons Lucian and Oscar

Thoughts of the brave and positive way Alan coped with his diagnosis and treatment will keep Jo motivated through all those tough miles.

“Alan was selfless in every aspect of his life. He was witty and humble with a huge circle of friends, and he was liked by everyone he met. He adored his family, and bringing up his boys.

“When things are hard in training, I remind myself that I ‘get’ to do this – mobility is a privilege. Alan’s mobility declined very rapidly over the course of about 6 weeks and I saw first hand how frustrating it was for him to be unable to do the things he wanted.

“Having the ability to get up and run and move freely is a luxury that I will never take for granted.”

The support of family and friends will be a huge source of motivation on the day. Jo said:

“Both Alan’s and my family will be there to support me around the course, and the children will be cheering along too. I’m expecting it to be quite emotional once I cross the finish line!

“Completlng this marathon in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity is a huge personal challenge for me. I want to show our children how to thrive in the face of adversity and raise some money for a phenomenal charity in the process.

“I hope the children will be proud of me! It’s been a tough 18 months for us, but this is a cause we are so passionate about. The treatment and diagnosis of brain tumours is so underfunded, despite their prevalence in young people. If we can help fund a cure, then I believe that is a legacy Alan would be proud of.”

Andy, Sarah and Harry’s Story

“Our grief for Emily is as powerful as our love for her and we hope to channel this on race day to keep us going.”  

Sarah Smith

Andy and Sarah Smith, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, will run the London Marathon this Sunday, raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of their daughter Emily who died in 2022. And Emily’s older brother, Harry – who was crowned Just Giving’s Young Fundraiser of the Year last September in recognition of his incredible fundraising for The Charity – is taking on his own marathon challenge by swimming a marathon distance in April, one mile at a time. 

Andy and Sarah Smith, Emily’s dad and mum

Emily was diagnosed with a diffuse midline glioma – one of the most common types of brain tumour in children – in July 2022, when she was eight years old. 

Her diagnosis came after feeling ‘unusual’ and having weakness on her right side just a few days before. Emily was referred to hospital where she had an MRI which revealed the tumour in her brain. She sadly died just 11 days later. 

 Since losing Emily, her family have raised over £50,000 for Supporter Group Emily’s Fund. Harry took on a series of tough physical challenges, from climbing Scafel Pike, to cycling the 75km from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to his home in St. Albans – the journey home his sister was not able to make.  And last summer, the whole family completed a 192km coast to coast challenge across the UK for Tom’s Trust. But the London Marathon will be a huge physical test for Andy and Sarah.

Andy explained: 

“Sarah won’t mind me saying – she is definitely not a regular runner and the furthest she has run in recent years is a 3km, which she did with Emily in our local fun run. 

“Although I have run much less in the last couple of years, I have run one previous marathon in 2021.  

“It is a real privilege to take part on behalf of The Brain Tumour Charity and it is all for Emily.  We will run/walk together as her parents, trying our best to turn our grief into something positive. 

“We are looking forward to being part of the Brain Tumour Charity team and being cheered on by our family and friends. We will run with ‘Emily’s mum’ and ‘ Emily’s dad’ on our tops and look forward to hearing her name shouted out along the streets of London. It will be really emotional but hoping that the encouragement will spur us on to the end.” 

Emily sadly died in 2022

The pair have been preparing hard – although, as most marathoners will recognize, some of their training has had its ups and downs. But thoughts of Emily will keep Andy and Sarah going through all those tough miles. Sarah said: 

“We think about Emily all the time and she will be in our minds every step of the way. Our grief for Emily is as powerful as our love for her and we hope to channel this on race day to keep us going.  

“We have also been told that the crowds of people really do help sweep you along the course and are definitely hoping that will be worth a few miles too. We are very grateful to have family and friends coming down to support us and will also look out for the charity’s support team along the way. No doubt it will be tough, physically and emotionally, but we will help each other and just keep putting one foot in front of the other for as long as we can.  

“I think most runners will have doubts about their training and preparation and we both feel like we could have done with another few weeks to fit in a few more miles. Some training has been curtailed by health issues which affects confidence, but we are very determined to get to that finish line and make Emily proud.” 

Brother Harry’s challenge

Harry will be there to greet them at the finish line along with friends and other family members.  And not to be left out, he’s designed his own marathon challenge. Harry said: 

“When mum and dad got their places in the London marathon, it got me thinking what I could do as we have done all our other challenges together and I’m not allowed to enter the London marathon….yet! 

“I decided to swim a marathon this April, a mile a day. Emily and I loved swimming. We used to have swimming lessons together in half terms. We also loved bodyboarding in the sea on holidays, swimming in Center Parcs and we even swam in the Lake District with wetsuits!  

“I mostly do front crawl, but that can get tiring, so sometimes I will do breastroke or backstroke for a bit of a rest. I try butterfly sometimes too but that’s quite hard. I am getting quicker and can now do a mile in under an hour.  

“Sometimes I feel tired before I even go so that is difficult. I usually feel better once I start and always feel I’m making Emily proud when another mile is completed.”