15th April 2024

Erin Stokes and Lucy Thomason’s London Marathon Story

View all Supporter Stories

Best friends Erin and Lucy are running the London Marathon together this year for Lucy’s Dad Ken, who currently has stage 4 lung cancer. They’ve organised some brilliant events to help spread the word and fundraise for us, such as assemblies and fun runs in their children’s schools and even their very own record-breakers-themed events!

“We met at our church playgroup around the age of 3-4. We attended primary and secondary school together in Codsall, Wolverhampton and have remained close friends ever since.  

“The same primary school is now attended by our children (3 each!) and has supported our fundraising journey. We have been by each other’s side throughout school, working alongside each other as lifeguards from the age of 16-18, then as Lucy visited me at University in Liverpool, clocking up long phone calls during Lucy’s travelling gap year and as we got married and had children. Our children range from 5 to 14 in age and are all good friends themselves.

“Over the last 10 years, despite our busy lives working and caring for our families, we have made time to run together. We ran our first marathon in Paris in 2022 to celebrate turning 40. It seemed a natural place to ‘try’ for our first marathon as another of our lifelong friends Jen now lives in Paris and was able to support us and put us up for the weekend! 

“We made it through (despite injury and the usual training stresses) and despite stating “never again” we both applied for the London Marathon in 2024. Lucy was lucky enough to secure a ballot place, I was not. 

“It was around this time that Lucy’s Dad Ken was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had a persistent cough which was treated with antibiotics and steroids from November 2022- May 2023, before being referred to our local hospital in May. He was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), stage 4. 

“Next week he will complete his 11th treatment of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, which is having a positive impact on the tumour and has kept it contained. He remains well and is positive, enjoying life with his family around him and his grandchildren at his side.

“When the consultant went through the initial diagnosis he used a visual aid provided by Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Using the visual aid to support the understanding of the diagnosis,  the family found this helpful at a very difficult time. This led them to look to the website for further guidance and the mass of information provided there was a great tool. It offered honesty and reassurance, something which the family felt grateful for.”

Training for this year’s London Marathon

“Because of the support offered to the family by Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Lucy suggested to me that if I were to apply to Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation for a fundraising place, she would fundraise alongside me. When I received news from the charity that I had been selected, I was over the moon. And we started to plan our fundraising and training schedules.

“We run separately during the week, fitting it in around our work and family commitments and try to run together for our long runs at the end of the week, chatting our way through the miles! It’s been a very wet few months with some very soggy and tough runs. 

“During our last marathon training, we enjoyed some beautiful scenic runs through country lanes and tracks. But due to the wet winter and spring this time around, we’ve been limited to more road runs, pounding the Wolverhampton pavements!

“We are both looking forward to the London Marathon so much – just to be part of the atmosphere. We both enjoy watching it each year on TV, and I have travelled to London a couple of times cheering on my brother who previously ran the race, but to be part of the day itself feels like a privilege and lifelong dream. 

“We have the usual ‘maranoia’ starting to set in now, with a few niggles but on the whole, we just can’t wait to do it. We don’t have a target time as such but we would love to better our last marathon times and finishing in around 4 hours would be awesome!”

Fundraising for a great cause

“One of the main things that will spur us on for the big day will be thinking of all those who have kindly supported us in our fundraising.  We had four main fundraising ideas. The first was a Marathon in a Month. We launched in January and asked friends and family to kick start their new year fitness by covering 26.2 miles in any way they chose, over the month. 

“People paid a sum to join, we set up a Strava group and provided updates on our fundraising page. At the end of the month, we organised a group meet at our local park for all participants. 

“A local printing company, Prontaprint, provided certificates and Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation provided medals, which we presented to all following a final lap around the 1-mile loop of the park. It was really well supported and we had a lovely afternoon. It was made all the more special as we were joined by Ken, who walked a lap with us.

“We have had unbelievable support from our primary school, St Christopher’s Catholic Primary Academy, Codsall. They agreed to run a couple of events for us including a non-uniform day where the children paid a donation in order to wear their own clothes. We stood at the gate at the start and end of the school day with Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation cash cans and we were blown away by the generosity of the parents. We even made a record for the most money raised on a non-uniform day! 

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the staff who spoke to the children about the day and a beautiful letter sent out by the deputy head Mr Kevin Brown, a cancer survivor himself, outlining the importance of the work of cancer research and explaining about our fundraising. We attended an assembly a few weeks later to thank the children and tell them that they had raised a whopping £226.90. As well as telling them a little bit more about the charity, we asked them if they would be willing to take part in a sponsored fun run. We had great fun with the children and they eagerly promised their support. 

“We loved being a part of the run alongside the children, cheering them on as they raced their hearts out. They were all incredible and deserved the medals and stickers provided by Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which we gave them at the end of the event. The school raised a staggering total of £805.88. We cannot thank them enough for their support and encouragement.

“Our final fundraising event was a family fun evening, held at our local Irish club which we have links to, with a Record Breakers theme. It was also to be the draw night for a raffle which we organised.

“It was a long and hard process as it can be tough asking people for donations, but once again we were blown away by the generosity shown to us and we had an unbelievable amount of prizes donated. 

“The evening was huge fun. We encouraged teams to participate in ‘record-breaking challenges, such as teams building the tallest toilet roll tower in 30 seconds (the WR was 28 by the way!), or the softest toys caught while blindfolded in a minute (WR: 25). We even had a line up of about 10 volunteers attempting to eat 3 cream crackers in a minute (stopwatches at the ready!), as the crowd got raucous and laughter filled our hall. 

“We were told by many that it was particularly nice to be able to enjoy a family evening of games where children could compete alongside adults and everyone could enjoy themselves. We also had a picture quiz and colouring competition running, to keep everyone busy and animated while they enjoyed their evening. On top of this, my daughter made and sold loom band bracelets!”

“Our fundraising total currently stands at just over £5000 and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

“We are so grateful to have this opportunity to run the London Marathon, but it has been hard work, both training and fundraising. However, the fundraising has been a welcome distraction from the scary prospect of running 26.2 miles! 

“It has most importantly reminded us of why we are doing this. If the money we have raised can be used to help families like Lucy’s, at a painful time when they are trying to understand and absorb life-changing news or help patients like Ken to come to terms with what lies ahead, then we will be happy and it will all have been worth it!”

You can donate to Erin and Lucy’s fundraiser here: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/erin-stokes