A FATHER whose determination to ditch the pub culture and get fit is preparing to spend the winter training for a half-marathon.

Mervyn Dunkley, 31, of Colham Avenue, West Drayton, is going to take on the Reading half-marathon in March, to raise funds for London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

Always a fan of long distance cross-country in his school days, Mr Dunkley admitted he had fallen out of love with it, until he was moti

vated by his wife completing the Race for Life challenge in July.

"It inspired me, so I registered for a 10k in Hampton Court in September, and now I am going for a half marathon. I always quite enjoyed the pub culture and lifestyle, but not any more. I have had to ditch the junk food and cut out fizzy drinks to replace them with water."

Mr Dunkley, who is self-employed, said his determination has astounded his family, who are all immensely proud of him.

"I am training regularly," he said. "It is tougher in the cold weather, but you can't use it as an excuse not to train. Even if it is hammering it down with rain I will go out running, because if I didn't, I'd start finding excuses not to even if it wasn't raining."

Mr Dunkley is now running several miles a week around routes which include the Bath Road, Hayes and Harlington, and the canals around Cowley and Uxbridge.

He added: "Great Ormond Street is a good a cause. It doesn't have any major personal connection to me, but I am a father and I respect the hard work they do."

Mr Dunkley has already secured sponsorship and in the new year will be involved with fundraising events at William Byrd School, Victoria Lane, Harlington, which his son attends.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/mervyn-dunkley