A WOMAN who lost her husband to cancer 18 months ago has been chosen to spearhead a major nationwide campaign.

Marcus Lovell, who was described by his family as a ‘true inspiration’, was just 40 when he lost his battle with cancer.

Now his widow Lara, from Tolpuddle has been named as just one of 26 ‘go the distance ambassadors’ to promote a new partnership between Cancer Research UK and the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon.

The 44-year-old will help rally communities across the country to go the distance for the charity by taking up a running challenge this year.

Lara, a business development manager for recruitment specialists Advantage Resourcing, and each of the other 25 ambassadors have supported a loved one through their cancer journey.

She and seven-year-old daughter Gracie, who attends Puddletown First School, are still coming to terms with losing Marcus at such a young age.

He had been experiencing a pain in his side during a family holiday in August 2011 but by the time doctors diagnosed the problem six weeks later, they couldn’t help him. Marcus had previously suffered from irritable bowel syndrome but neither he nor the doctors after several consultations had recognised that as a sign of cancer.

Lara said: “We were given no hope.

“Our daughter, who was then only five, was going to lose her amazing daddy and I was losing my beloved husband.

“Marcus was such an amazing person he had a fantastic personality, he was very charismatic and during his illness he never once complained.

Marcus, a doting dad to Gracie, died just 10 months after being diagnosed.

Lara said: “I had never been touched by cancer until Marcus was diagnosed.

“He was a very fit 39-year-old who went to the gym four times a week. He had a healthy diet and looked after himself. “It all happened so quickly. We were told it was terminal as soon as he was diagnosed.

“It was a massive shock and nothing can prepare you for hearing and dealing with the consequences.”

She added: “I have now got to a point where I would like to do what I can to raise awareness and through our very sad story try to help others.”

As well as fundraising, Lara and Gracie are taking part in Race for Life at Dorchester and the Bournemouth event, which falls on Father’s Day. Lara has also persuaded several friends to enter next year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.

She said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as ambassadors in the charity’s very special year of running.

“We hope people across Dorset will take on just one running challenge over the next 12 months, big or small. Cancer Research UK offers a range of events to suit every age and ability.”

'Inspiring story'

Helen Johnstone, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Dorset, said: “I hope Lara’s moving story will encourage people to go the distance for Cancer Research UK.

“In the lead up to the Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 we’d love to see thousands more raising funds.

“There is no need to run 26 miles. From 5km and 10km fun runs and Race for Life events, to marathons and half marathons, people can take on their own distance.

“By taking on a Cancer Research UK challenge, people will be helping our researchers in the challenge of curing all cancers.”

The official Virgin Money London Marathon ballot opens in the early hours of Tuesday, April 22.

The charity also offers a number of Golden Bond places that can be applied for.

For more information on Cancer Research UK running events visit cruk.org/support-us/find-an-event To join its Virgin Money London Marathon team visit cruk.org/marathon