Marathon effort to make my dad proud

Treasured memories - the last photo of Sophie with her dad, Mark.
Treasured memories - the last photo of Sophie with her dad, Mark.
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Father’s Day will have added poignancy for brave fundraiser Sophie Arnold when she takes on her fourth Boston to Skegness Seabank Marathon.

Sophie (21) hit the wall a few miles off the finish in 2010, 2011 and 2012 – and each time it was her dad, Mark, who met her at a checkpoint and walked beside her to help her complete the course.

I have to do this for dad.

Sophie Arnold

Sadly Mark died aged 47 in October from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and on June 21 Sophie must go it alone.

Sophie said: “It sounds really stupid but I just kind of want to make him proud and prove that I can do it without him while doing it for him as well.”

Sophie, along with family and friends, who are members of ‘Team Markyarnold’, are raising cash for Macmillan Cancer Support – and Sophie’s mum, Allison, will match the sum they raise and donate it to a melanoma charity.

Allison (48) said: “It’s a double whammy for Sophie – her dad won’t be there to help her over the finish line and it’s Father’s Day.”

Allison’s niece, Nikki Bellamy, is helping the fundraising by organising non-uniform days at Spalding’s Wygate Nursery and Spalding Primary School.

Nikki is also raising awareness about sun safety as more than 80 per cent of skin cancers are caused by over exposure to the sun and/or sunbeds, making the majority of all skin cancers preventable.

But skin cancer is the UK’s most common cancer and the UK has more skin cancer deaths than Australia.

The Arnolds hope to raise £1,500 for Macmillan and anyone who wants to support them can donate to www.justgiving.com/teammarkyarnold

Mark was diagnosed with melanoma in May 2014.

Sophie said: “As he was unable to attend the Seabank Marathon that year, and I knew there was absolutely no chance of me completing it without him, we put together a relay team of both family and friends, Team Markyarnold.

“As a team, we managed to complete the marathon and raise £250 for Macmillan Cancer Support.”

But, this time, Sophie says she wants to prove to herself – as well as everyone else – that she’s capable of going the whole distance.

She says: “I have to do this for dad.”

Sophie lives in Spalding with her mum and works for SJA Produce on market stalls in Spalding, Holbeach and Crowland.