A FITNESS challenge turned into an emotional fundraising mission for a mother-of-three when her father was diagnosed with cancer and died within days.

Katie Blair, from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, was one of seven members of the Fit4longer fitness group to complete the Tough Mann Adventure Challenge in the Isle of Man earlier this month.

Fitness trainer Stuart Furlonger had encouraged the group to take part in the extreme 10k obstacle course to give them a goal to work towards and to support his mother, Linda, who had already signed up.

Loading article content

The group started training immediately, introducing regular runs in addition to boot camp, kettle bells and other activities.

But in April, tragedy stuck when Miss Blair’s beloved father, Roy Blair, was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Twelve days later he died at St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington at the age of 55.

Despite her grief, Miss Blair, 25, a full time mother-of-three, decided to go ahead with the challenge and use it as a way to raise funds for the hospice.

She said: “The staff at the hospice are amazing. They went above and beyond what you would expect of them.

“The doctors and nurses were great and spent a lot of time talking to us and listening to our concerns.

“My dad was a lovely easy going person. I think he would be proud of us. It was him who encouraged me to start exercising in the first place when I said I wanted to lose weight.”

Mr Furlonger, 23, set up an online fundraising page and it was not long before donations began flooding in.

The total now stands at £750, with more contributions expected, including a poignant gesture from Miss Blair’s eldest son, Jack, five.

“Jack wanted to know what the fundraising page was for and I told him it was to raise money for the people who helped granddad,” said Miss Blair.

“He then asked if he could donate his pocket money.”

Mr Furlonger, who owns Fit4longer, said it had been an honour to complete the challenge in Mr Blair’s memory.

“Katie is fantastic,” he said. “She showed such determination and strength of character though a very difficult time.

“Most people would have pulled out but she threw herself back into training.”

To make a donation, visit justgiving.com/Stu-Furlonger/

For more information about St Teresa's Hospice visit darlingtonhospice.org.uk