The woman behind the warm-up routine at Stamford’s Race for Life has revealed how losing her dad to cancer has made her determined to make this year’s event the best yet.
Sonia Cullington, 44, has helped ladies limber up for the 5k and 10k Stamford races for years, but this time the event will be extra special as she will lead the warm-up in memory of her father Ken Nicoll, who died of cancer last month.
The mum-of-one, from Oundle, is looking forward to seeing other women join her in the fight against the disease in the event, which takes place at Burghley House on Sunday.
Her father’s cancer was diagnosed by chance - he did not feel ill but sent back a sample test that came through the post. He was called in for further analysis and bowel cancer was diagnosed. He underwent three operations and chemotherapy but sadly the cancer spread.
Sonia said: “He was fighting it and fighting it until the end. He wanted to live, he wanted to prolong his life but in December, just before Christmas, dad’s GP called and asked my sister and me to come to the house. That was when he started to use the word terminal.
“It was a shock, I hadn’t heard him use that word – terminal. I had to think, where do we go from here and how can I help? It was very difficult. To watch a family member go through it is agonising. I just had to keep being positive and see what I could do to help.
“It will be emotional when I am on the stage getting people warmed up but it means a lot to me to do it.
“There will be people in the crowd who have lost loved ones, or who are fighting cancer, and we’ve all come together for the same cause. It’s a really special day.”
Cancer Research UK events manager Julie Braithwaite said: “Sonia has been an amazing supporter of our Stamford Race for Life event and has always made sure our ladies are ready to take part.
“Our aim is that one day everyone will beat cancer. The more research we can fund, the sooner that day will come - so ladies of Stamford, it’s time to pull on your leggings, join the pink army and get ready to Race for Life.”
Sonia will be taking part in the first Race for Life marathon in October in London. To support her visit www.justgiving.com/soniacullington/
The event starts at 11am and supporters are welcome to cheer on the ladies at Burghley Park.
l To find out more, turn to page 41.