A MAN overcame two knee surgeries and ankle reconstruction to run a marathon in honour of a friend with cancer, raising thousands for the charity that helped him.

Stuart Wilson, 47, a communications director, says he “crossed the line as a gentle breeze after starting as a raging tornado but never stopped running like the wind” when he completed the Berlin Marathon on September 26.

He was running in honour of his buddy, who first got him into running a decade ago, former Ardrossan Herald journalist and now Glasgow Herald newspaper columnist, 63-year-old, Ally McLaws.

Stuart, from Renfrewshire, has raised more than £5,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, the charity that has helped Ally through the worst of times.

Having shed three and a half stone, come through two knee surgeries, and an ankle reconstruction, Stuart felt that this was nothing compared to what his pal and his family have had to endure. Much-loved columnist, Ally, regularly shares the ups and downs of his cancer experience, to raise awareness in hope that it will help others going through similar.

He said: “I’ve faced incredible physical hardships in the last few years but nothing compared to what Ally has and is going through – that’s what motivated me to get the running shoes out again. Throughout Covid, I felt helpless not being able to support my pal so I thought this was the best way.

“Macmillan has done a phenomenal job supporting Ally and his wife, Laura and I wanted to give something back to the charity that have done so much for them.

“I have pounded the streets all over Scotland, so lots of training. I also shed three and a half stone in the process, so that’s a good thing.

“It was a very hard marathon and in extreme temperatures. It was way too hot for me and many people didn’t finish due to the heat.

“I pushed through it knowing that Ally was tracking my run – he even wore his Macmillan t-shirt.

“I can honestly say it’s the hardest physical thing I’ve ever had to deal with.

“Crossing through the finish line, I felt exhilarated and very emotional knowing that it was for Ally.”

It was Ally that introduced Stuart to running a decade ago.

Ally, who sent his pal messages of encouragement throughout the marathon, said: “I was linked by technology to my pal as he pounded the streets of Berlin raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support – that’s amazing.

“With Laura beside me, we felt like all those families who watched and cheered from afar as their relative or friend competed in the Olympic Games in Japan.

“I’m fitted with oxygen tubes and consigned to a wheelchair so my days of running are clearly behind me, but I was virtually able to take part through Stuart as my surrogate.

“Why Berlin? Well, it’s the flattest course in Europe and Stuart is no Mo Farah – he needed all the help he could get.”

Ally added: “Together we have raised over £5,000 for Macmillan with sponsorship coming from his pals and mine.

“Charities have had a really challenging time since Covid struck early in 2019. So many events were canceled and as funds dried up the demands on charities has grown.

“It’s heartening to see mass support for fundraising.

“In my case, as I battle against terminal lung and brain cancer, I concentrate on supporting three cancer charities, Macmillan Cancer Support, Ayrshire Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK.

“Me and thousands of other Scots are alive right now due to advances in treatments and early diagnosis.

“We all need to learn more about checking ourselves and identifying the early signs and the NHS needs to step up with fast early cancer diagnosis and treatment as a top priority.

“I can’t thank Stuart enough for his support and to everyone who has sponsored us. He started that run as a tornado, a hurricane, then a storm. He ran like the wind and there was no stopping him – I was with him all the way.”

Lisa Wild, relationship area fundraising manager in Scotland at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “I really applaud Stuart’s effort – especially in that heat. What a lovely thing he has done for his friend to show support in all he is going through.

“I want to say a massive thank you to Stuart for raising funds for Macmillan during a time when our fundraising has taken a considerable dip. His challenge will certainly inspire others.

“I’d also like to say thank you to Ally in supporting Macmillan and raising awareness of our services to others through his column.

“It’s been a difficult year for a lot of charities but at Macmillan our number one priority is to do whatever it takes to support people with cancer in every way we can.

“The pressure on our frontline services has never been greater and we desperately need funds to keep providing that support – so thank you Stuart and Ally, from all of us at Macmillan.”

If you would like to donate to Stuart’s fundraising, please visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=StuartRWilson&pageUrl=6

Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, emotional, and personal support to people affected by cancer. The charity is there to support people during treatment, help with work and money worries, and listen when people need to talk about their feelings. If you need to contact them, their Support Line is available on 08088080000 and the line is open seven days from 8 am-8 pm.