A 71-year-old from Bamber Bridge was inspired to take on her eleventh marathon this year, in memory of her neighbour and friend who always encouraged and supported her in her athletic feats.
Despite vowing that last year’s marathon would be her last, Elsie Walmsley was motivated to do the London run this year after her beloved neighbour and Ironman competitor Daniel Banks died of cancer, aged just 46.
Daniel was cared for at St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall – a charity which he had fundraised for many times over the years, and where members of his family volunteer – so Elsie wanted to raise funds for the cause by taking on the 26-mile challenge.
“Daniel was the loveliest lad you’d ever wish to meet,” she said. “He was always there to help me and my husband, and he’d always ask about my runs. When I did the marathon last year he was too poorly to take part in sports by that point, but he was tracking me on his phone to see how I was getting on.
“This year, when I was doing it in Daniel’s honour, it was my eleventh marathon and it was the hardest one yet – it was boiling hot, but I felt motivated to keep going because I was doing it for him, and I really felt like he was with me, pushing me on.”
Elsie, who works part-time as a receptionist, chose to support St Catherine’s after getting a ‘Good for Age’ entry in this year’s London Marathon. She completed the run in five hours and 53 minutes, and raised £870 for the hospice.
Daniel’s mum Valerie, who volunteers in the hospice’s reception gift shop, said: “Elsie is just incredible. Daniel too was really athletic and took part in four Ironman competitions, including in Lanzarote and Austria. He enjoyed pushing himself and testing his limits, and he raised a lot of money for charity including St Catherine’s Hospice.”
Daniel, a joiner who lived with his wife Donna, was initially diagnosed with skin cancer, which was removed in 2016. But in June 2017, it was discovered he had cancer of the kidney, liver, spleen and ribs.
“He lost a lot of weight and had started feeling faint,” Valerie explained. “By the time they found out what it was, they said it was too far gone and they couldn’t do anything for him.
“He came into St Catherine’s on June 27, and he died the next day. He said he didn’t want to die at home, and we were so grateful for the wonderful care he received.
“He was such a selfless lad, he was truly amazing.”
His wife Donna added: “I would personally like to thank the staff at St Catherine’s who were so caring and professional.”