Monday 12th July 2021
A team of RAF Reserves took place in a marathon fundraising challenge in honour of their teammate with terminal cancer. James Iddon, whose main career is a matron in the NHS in Bristol, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in April last year.
Having received his treatment at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre (BHOC), James signed up to run the London Marathon to celebrate the year he beat cancer. He is raising money for Above & Beyond, the NHS charity fundraising for BHOC.
Sadly, in May this year, James received the devastating diagnosis that not only had his cancer returned, it is now terminal, leaving him unable to complete his charity challenge.
As an RAF Reserve at Brize Norton, James’ colleagues and friends from the military have decided to do their own marathons to help James hit his fundraising target for Above & Beyond.
“I’m very lucky to be a member of a great RAF team. They’ve all pushed themselves in their own way to do it. Some of them have been trying to run the marathon distance in a week, some are recovering from injury so they’re going further but on bikes, but they’re all raising money.
“I’m amazed at their ability to go ‘you’re part of our team and what’s your challenge is our challenge’.
“What they’re each personally achieving on their own and on my behalf is such a morale boost when you’re going through difficult times and you’re having difficult days – and when you’re dealing with a terminal diagnosis there’s plenty of those times. It puts a little spring in your step when not much puts a spring in your step.
“I just feel really cared for. It’s amazing.”
James’ RAF colleagues have each been running their own marathon in stages before they completed the final five miles this Sunday (11 July).
“I’ve always been a runner and saw the London Marathon as an opportunity to combine my love of running, getting back to fitness, my recovery and giving back to the NHS. It just seemed like such a great thing to do.
“Finding out the cancer had spread to my lungs was the most devastating bit of the whole journey.
“At the time it didn’t feel real. The day I heard that diagnosis I was doing marathon training. To let the information sink in I went out and ran 12 miles.
“I then had the realisation that I had to change my perspective on things and what I can physically do.
“The fundraising has continued to go way past the target which is a lovely thing to see. It’s just showing me that they’re there for me.”
James and his RAF colleagues are fundraising for NHS charity Above & Beyond, the official charity for University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW).
The charity raise money for projects over and above what the NHS can provide, including the most up-to-date equipment, more comfortable surroundings and innovative research.
Recent projects at BHOC include a breast cancer nurse specialist, a research project into prostate cancer and a make-up workshop for young people with cancer.
Natalie Millbank, from Above & Beyond, said:
“We are truly touched that James and his colleagues are continuing to fundraise for Above & Beyond and I’d like to say a huge thank you to him and all his family and friends.
“All the money raised will make a huge to both staff and patients at our hospitals.”
Story image shows Flt Lt Iddon on aeromedical evacuation duties in the rear of a C-130 Hercules during an exercise in 2016 ©Crown Copyright.