The London Marathon celeb press conference

As we get closer to the Virgin Money London Marathon Race Day, we met some of the runners who – rather than competing for a title – are running to raise funds for charity.

We are joined by Oliver Proudlock and Hugo Taylor of Made in Chelsea fame, Helen George; an actress in the BBC Drama Call the Midwife, David Hemery; winner of the 400 metres hurdles at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Lee Hendrie, former Aston Villa and England football player and soprano singer and winner of Britain’s Got Talent, Aliki Chrysochou.

The six begin by telling us how training is going. Oliver described his friend Hugo as being “like Ricky Hatton” as after last year’s marathon, where Hugo ran a time of 4:11, he then didn’t do any exercise until January when he began training again. Oliver himself is a health and fitness enthusiast and says that cutting out socialising has really benefitted his training. Helen has run the longest distance out of the group, completing a 20 mile run, whereas Lee – due to time constraints – has done no training whatsoever, other than playing football every Saturday and Sunday.

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Oliver Proudlock

When asked how they ended up running the marathon, all parties agreed that they accepted the challenge without really realising what they were getting themselves into. Helen met a someone from the charity Macmillan at a party and, after a couple of glasses to wine, decided to run. Her husband’s father died from cancer so the charity has a personal connection for her. Aliki also has a personal connection with her charity of choice, The Encephalitis Society, after she was left paralysed by the disease focal encephalitis. Aliki said

I was one of the few who survived the disease and not only survived but able to live life to full, and even to be able run a marathon!

Talk turned to fundraising and Lee Hendrie, who is fundraising for Cure Leukaemia, talked passionately about the inspiration behind his charity choice, fellow former Aston Villa player, Stiliyan Petrov.

Stiliyan is the nicest person I’ve ever met in football and to see what his family went through when he suffered from Leukaemia was shocking. His diagnosis was a huge shock to everyone and this event is a great opportunity to do something to help others who go through it. I don’t have a specific number in mind target wise, but I’ll be texting my old team mates tomorrow to make sure I can raise as much as possible.

Oliver went on to say how much more difficult he’s found fundraising than he thought he would. He said that coming from an affluent background and knowing wealthy people, he thought it would be easy to get them to donate, but actually it’s been his younger and less well off friends who have been digging deep to help him raise funds for the British Heart Foundation. Hugo, who is running for Malaria No More and the Rainbow Trust, said he’ll be tapping his dad up for a cheque to boost his final figure.

David Hemery, who sadly won’t be able to run on Sunday after an injury and will instead be walking the course, described how small charities can struggle and that they – including the charity he founded and is running for, 21st Century Legacy: Be the best you can Be, can even have trouble making ends meet, which is why events like the Virgin Money London Marathon are so important.

David went on to joke that the marathon is 41,000 meters beyond his preferred distance and that he hopes to finish some time between six hours and Tuesday.


About Ian Humphreys