Burnley dad-of-two Simon completes his eighth London Marathon in memory of his much missed father
It would have been difficult not to spot dad-of-two Simon Howarth when he took part in the London Marathon yesterday.
For he completed the gruelling 26.2 mile course with 70kg worth of helium heart balloons for the British Heart Foundation in memory of his dad who died when Simon was only 12.
This was the eighth marathon Simon (39), who is from Burnley, has taken part in. He was inspired by the statistic that 110 people under the age of 75 die from a heart attack in the UK every year.
Simon encouraged people write the names of those they had lost onto his balloons to symbolise the hearts that had stopped due to heart and circulatory disease.
Simon said: "My father died of a heart attack when I was only 12 years old.
"It was very sudden – he grabbed his chest, collapsed and then died immediately whilst my brother was with him.
"He left behind a family of six which had a huge impact on mine and my siblings’ childhood as well as my mother’s life.
"Because of this experience, the BHF is our family charity. We want to help stop other families going through what we went through by helping to raise money for the BHF’s life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.’
Throughout his race, Simon had the names of loved ones on his balloons so that he was running for and with those who have passed away.
He added: "Now I have my own two young children, I am more determined than ever to help stop other children
going through what my siblings and I did.
"The balloons really slowed me down but it’s a small sacrifice to make in relation to those who have lost their lives to heart related diseases or have lost those they love to them.
"The atmosphere and reception was electric – it drove me to the finish line."
Last year Simon, who now lives in Essex, took part in the marathon dressed as a heart/eyes smiley emoji and 50 helium balloons attached him, each with a dedication on.
He was inspired to do that after asking for ideas from his wife Christine and daughters Layla (seven) and five-year-old Ruby.
Simon lived in Burnley until he was 16 and most of his family are still in the town.
Karen McDonnell, Events Manager at the BHF said: ‘We are so grateful to Simon and his creative, symbolic idea of running with 110 heart shaped balloons.
"His commitment to helping us beat heart disease is incredibly admirable and we’re so thrilled that he chose to run for us. The money raised by Simon will go towards funding life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases which currently kill one in four people in the UK.
If you would like to sponsor Simon please go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SimonHowarth