A Dorset man is set to run his first marathon - at the ripe age of 50.

Chris Whitlock, from Yetminster in West Dorset, will run the London Marathon on Sunday, April 22, and says that despite this being his first major race, he hopes to complete the testing course in just four and a quarter hours.

The design engineer said he was inspired to take on the challenge for charity Independent Age because of the work it does in supporting older people to live independently.

“Running the London Marathon is a personal ambition of mine," Mr Whitlock said. "It’s an iconic event and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.

"The work that Independent Age does changes people’s lives and it’s lovely to be able to contribute to this.”

Independent Age is an older people’s charity that provides regular friendly contact, a strong campaigning voice and free, impartial advice on the issues that matter to older people, such as care and support, money and benefits and health and mobility.

Mr Whitlock hopes to raise £2500 for Independent Age. The money raised will go towards the charity’s work helping older people stay independent for as long as possible.

Matthew Wilkley, Independent Age's assistant director of fundraising, said: “Running a marathon, especially for the first time, is a great achievement and we’re looking forward to cheering on Chris and our other runners on the day.

"The money raised will go towards our advice and friendship services, and will help us speak up for those who are lonely, vulnerable or in need of help, so runners like Chris really will be making a big difference to the lives of older people.”

To support Mr Whitlock and help him reach his target, sponsor him at justgiving.com/fundraising/c-whitlock.

To make a donation or find out more about how you can support the work of Independent Age and help older people stay independent, including taking part in next year’s London Marathon, please visit independentage.org/support-us.