Tributes have been paid to a dedicated Marsden March fundraiser after he died suddenly just two weeks before the annual charity walk.
Gary Kelly worked for 33 years at security systems supplier Banham Group, which is sponsoring the seventh Marsden March on Sunday (March 19).
Mr Kelly suffered a suspected heart attack and died on March 5, aged 48.
He spent the last seven years of his life raising awareness and funds for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity after his son Ethan Murtagh-Kelly received treatment following diagnosis of a rare double Germ Cell brain tumour at the age of 10.
Tributes have been paid to him by Banham Group executive chairman Charles Hallatt and charity director Antonia Dalmahoy.
The Marsden March started in 2011 and sees participants walk between five and 14 miles between the Chelsea and Sutton hospitals.
Money raised is donated to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, which funds pioneering work in cancer research, diagnosis, treatment and care to improve the lives of patients at The Royal Marsden and people with cancer throughout the UK and beyond.
Mr Kelly, from Mitchem, had been looking forward to taking part in this year’s walk and said it was a way for his family to thank Royal Marsden staff for the treatment his son received.
He said: “We can’t thank the nurses and everyone enough. The Royal Marsden is amazing.
“The Marsden March is a good day out and I always feel good after completing it. While I’m not a nurse or a doctor I feel like I’ve achieved something for the hospital.”
After his diagnosis in November 2010, Ethan received chemotherapy and radiotherapy at The Royal Marsden in Sutton.
He is now 17 and in sixth form but has been left with some brain damage, memory loss, diabetes insipidus and eye problems.
He has annual scans at the hospital to monitor the remaining tumours.
Mr Kelly said: “Ethan has come so far with his rehabilitation as he can now walk with the aid of a walker.
“We spent seven months in hospital, and it took a further nine months for Ethan to complete his rehab.
“I’m always positive, his life isn’t perfect, but he enjoys school and has friends.
“While Ethan is doing much better, there is always a possibility that the cancer will come back, so were trying to live in the moment as we’re not sure what the future holds.”
Banham Group has its flagship store in Kensington High Street
Paying tribute, Mr Hallatt said: “Within Banham, we have several members of staff who have direct links to The Royal Marsden through the care and treatment that they have provided to friends and relatives, including Gary Kelly who tragically died just before the March.
“Our thoughts are of course with the Kelly family.”
Miss Dalmahoy added: “Our thoughts go out to the Kelly family and Banham at this difficult time. Banham’s support has been vital in helping us make The Marsden March such a great success.”
To see Mr Kelly's justgiving page click here .
For the Marsden March Banham Group fundraising page click here .
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