Former Sheffield Hallam student Andrew Murphy, 25, is running the Virgin Money London Marathon in April for blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan in memory of his best friend, who died from leukaemia in 2011.
Andrew, a café manager in Altrincham, met Alex McGrory at Wellington Road secondary school in Altrincham and they went on to study together at Sheffield Hallam University. They became close friends, even travelling to Asia together in the summer of 2010. But while they were travelling they saw the first signs that Alex was ill – he felt tired and out of breath from just walking down the street. ‘At first we thought he was just complaining but then we started wondering if he had malaria,’ said Andrew. ‘He went for a check-up in Vietnam and the last thing we were expecting was for the doctor to say he had cancer.’
Alex was flown to hospital in Bangkok for further tests as his condition deteriorated. ‘The worst thing was having to call his mum and dad to tell them. We went from having the time of our lives to a living a nightmare’ said Andrew.
Back in the UK, the Anthony Nolan register found Alex a matching stem cell donor, but the transplant was unsuccessful. A second transplant also failed to cure him. In 2012 Alex passed away, leaving his friends and family heartbroken. Now, Andrew is training to run the Virgin Money London Marathon in memory of Alex and to raise money for Anthony Nolan.
‘I want to give back what the charity gave to Alex,’ explained Andrew. He hopes to raise at least £1850 through fundraising, which could pay for 30 donors to join the register – for people with blood cancer, that’s 30 more chances to find a cure.
To raise money Andrew is hoping to organise a fine dining evening at the café he formerly managed in Sheffield. ‘The owners are really supportive and the chefs have offered to give their time for free,’ he said. ‘It’s a really important cause that makes a big difference so I hope people support it.’
Kirsty Low, head of events at Anthony Nolan, said: ‘Andrew’s doing an amazing thing by running the London Marathon in Alex’s memory. The money he raises will help us recruit more people onto the donor register to help make sure we can give people with blood cancer a second chance at life.
Are you interested in running a marathon or taking part in another event with Anthony Nolan? Take a look at our amazing fundraising events.