A RETIRED York teacher living with cancer has inspired his daughter to run a virtual fundraising event for the charity helping him through his illness.
Lizzie Shankland-Fee said the courage of her dad, former Huntington School deputy head Gordon Fee, was driving her on to organise a social-distancing marathon with a group of friends.
Gordon, 80, was a gymnast who marked his 60th birthday by turning six back-flips. He still boasted a six-pack when he turned 75.
But after running the 2018 York 10K Gordon felt breathless and tests showed he had the lung cancer mesothelioma.
He underwent surgery, chemotherapy and other gruelling treatments, and was not expected to live beyond a year, but Gordon, his wife Linda and their family are continuing to take each day as it comes, supported by York Against Cancer.
The charity gave them a free short break at its Whitby apartment and Gordon has also taken part in its free exercise sessions.
“The holiday was magical,” said Lizzie, 40. “The apartment is a magnificent penthouse and the views of the beach are phenomenal.
“Some days Dad struggled but he could watch us taking the kids down to the beach. When he was well we carried him down there and he had the most amazing day, just watching us burying the kids in the sand! It was perfect. We now live for the rainbow days and memories we can make together.”
But Lizzie, a teacher who lives in Manchester, has not been able to see Gordon and his wife Linda since coronavirus struck. They are self-isolating at home in York.
She said: “It is so difficult not being able to see my dad and family during this pandemic.
“I was planning to run the Manchester 10K and was gutted when it was cancelled because of Covid 19, but I had read about someone running a marathon in his garden and I that gave me the idea to do this. Hopefully, it will lift my dad’s spirits and make him feel proud.”
Over a Zoom internet chat meeting Lizzie and nine of her friends agreed to run a relay marathon on May 10, all doing stints near their homes and recording it with a photo and a screenshot of the routes they had tackled on the sports apps Strava and Map My Run.
“We’re not all runners – some will walk, one says she will hobble and another will do her bit pushing a baby in a buggy,” said Lizzie. “I can run six miles quite comfortably now but I am going to try to do 10 miles as long as I am not too slow!
We’re not going to time ourselves but we are going to do it in one day. I am confident we will run the 26.2 miles and possibly more.”
Lizzie has set up a JustGiving page here, where wellwishers can sponsor her and leave messages of support.
She says her dad was very touched when she told him what she was doing. “People have left such lovely messages and for him to be able to read them is really sweet.”