A Bedford man is to tackle the London Marathon this year in tribute to his younger brother who died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
Josh Usher, 27, managing director at Sky Satellites, will take on the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon for the blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, to mark the sixth anniversary of his brother’s death.
Josh’s younger brother Ben, 19, passed away in 2009 at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, after a short battle with a condition similar to Aplastic Anaemia, which meant his blood did not produce any white blood cells.
A bone marrow transplant could potentially have saved Ben’s life, but tragically he died before a matching donor could be found. This has inspired Josh to raise money so that Anthony Nolan can add more lifesavers to its register of potential donors.
Josh said: “Me and Ben were very close as brothers - we did a lot together. We used to play lawn bowls, golf, football and went out clubbing. On the Christmas Day before he was diagnosed, Ben seemed fine. He was playing on his new Nintendo with with my dad and his girlfriend.”
Just one day later, on Boxing Day 2008, Ben was taken ill and a series of tests led to him being diagnosed with the condition. “The whole ordeal seemed to flash by,” said Josh.
Ben’s family was told he needed a bone marrow transplant and, as Josh and their other brother Jamie was not a match, doctors would need to find a selfless stranger on the Anthony Nolan register. Sadly, Ben died before a match could be found.
Josh said: “I never believed that Ben would pass away, he was always a fighter and very strong willed. I was hopeful that me or my older brother Jamie would be a match but we weren’t. We also hoped that they would find an Anthony Nolan donor but Ben’s health deteriorated so quickly they couldn’t find a match quick enough.”
With the six year anniversary of Ben’s passing coming up in April, Josh decided to run the London Marathon 2015 in memory of his brother. Josh is hoping to use the opportunity to raise funds and awareness for Anthony Nolan, the UK’s bone marrow register.
Josh added: “The London marathon just stood out for me as it’s always around Ben’s anniversary and, in my eyes, the most prestigious marathon in the UK. I’ve struggled for many years to come to terms with losing Ben, but now the time seems right I want to give something back.
“The reason I wanted to run the marathon is to raise awareness. If I can run 26.2 miles, then anyone can join the bone marrow register and possibly save a life.
“If I can also raise some money to help another family in a similar position then all the hard work and training will be worth it.”
Josh is now preparing for the gruelling race, and will be thinking of Ben the whole way round.
Josh said: “Everyone who knows me knows I am not the fittest person, so this will be a challenge in itself for me but I am sure Ben will be pushing me on through out the race.”
Mary Campbell, head of events at Anthony Nolan, said: “We are delighted that Josh is running the marathon with us this year. Mile by mile, our team will be running to save lives. The funds they raise will enable us to recruit potential bone marrow donors like to the Anthony Nolan register – any one of them could be a lifesaving match for someone with blood cancer.”
To donate to Josh’s page go to https://www.justgiving.com/joshua-usher/