Thornbury GP to take on London Marathon in memory of one-year-old Rory
September 26, 2022
A doctor and mum-of-two from Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, is preparing to run the TCS London Marathon for charity, following the death of her friend’s baby to cancer.
GP Nicky Davis, who works at The Culverhay Surgery in Wotton-Under-Edge and Berkeley, is raising funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK. It’s after her friends Rhiana and Gary Thompson from Haddenham in Buckinghamshire stayed at Ronald McDonald House in Oxford during their baby son Rory’s cancer treatment.
Nicky, 40, said: “I originally had a place to run the marathon in October last year – the first one to take place after Covid. My training went well but unfortunately, a week before the event, I got poorly and broke a rib, so I had to pull out. I was gutted but thankfully, I was able to defer my place so here I am, one year later, having completed another gruelling training plan.”
When Nicky was training for the Marathon the first time around, Rory, who was born in September 2020, was seriously ill and receiving treatment at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. His parents were accommodated, free-of-charge, at the Oxford House opposite the hospital, allowing them to stay close to their young son. Tragically, Rory died on 4 November 2021, aged just 13 months, his treatment options having ran out.
Nicky, who is mum to five-year-old Cora and three-year-old Emmie, said: “I trained to become a GP with Rhiana and she is Emmie’s godmother. We’re really close friends. When Rory was just 10 days old, Rhiana noticed a lump on Rory’s jaw, which turned out to be cancerous. He had lots of chemotherapy, but the cancer spread into his brain. He had further, pioneering treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital but the disease was so aggressive, that there was eventually nothing they could do to save him.”
Rory’s tragic story is a huge motivation for Nicky, as she takes on her first ever marathon to “give something back” to the Charity, which helped her friends during their ordeal.
She added: “They live about an hour away from the hospital, so the House saved them so much time and fuel but more than that, it was a sanctuary for them during some dark times. Being at the House enabled Rhiana to stay close enough to Rory to continue breastfeeding and it provided a much-needed place for her and Gary to rest and recuperate in between long stints on the ward. The staff looked after them so well too. It was an absolute Godsend.”
The TCS London Marathon is the UK’s biggest and most iconic marathon. The world-famous route takes runners past many of London’s most memorable landmarks including Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. With around 50,000 runners and thousands more spectators lining the streets to cheer, the atmosphere at the London Marathon is like no other.
Nicky said: “Training for a marathon over the summer has been hard because you have to do all your long runs in hot weather, especially with the heat waves this year. But running a marathon has been on my bucket list for a while. I’m 40, the same age my dad was when he ran a marathon for the first time. Having lost him 16 years ago, he is also part of my motivation to do this.
“Equally, I’m spurred on by all the wonderful people who’ve donated. Thanks to my generous friends, relatives and colleagues, my fundraising total stands at more than £3,500, which will make such a difference to the Charity. Some of that has been raised through events I’ve held, such as a virtual quiz. Cora’s school, Crossways Infant School in Thornbury, and Emmie’s nursery, Natural Choice Nursery in Alveston, have done fundraisers too. I’m grateful for all the support and hope I can do everyone proud on the day.”
Ronald McDonald House Charities UK is an independent Charity, which operates 13 Houses across England, Wales, and Scotland, providing free ‘home away from home’ accommodation. The Houses keep families together, close to their children in hospital. They provide a place to sleep, cook and retain some sense of normal life; a lifeline for families at a very stressful time, especially when they are far from home. A Ronald McDonald House saves each family an average of £1,240 in out-of-pocket accommodation expenses.
Lily Smith, Senior Events Fundraiser at Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, said: “We were so sorry to hear about Rhiana and Gary’s tragic loss; our hearts go out to them. Nicky’s determination to take on this epic event in honour of Rory is inspiring and we’re so grateful she’s fundraising for our vital cause.
“It’s a privilege to allow families like Rory’s the chance to stay close to their child whilst they are in hospital, but we can only continue running and building more Houses, with the support of people like Nicky. We wish her all the best for the Marathon and will be there cheering her over the finish line on Sunday 2 October, along with all our other charity runners.”Lily Smith, Senior Events Fundraiser at Ronald McDonald House Charities UK