A DEDICATED uncle has honoured the memory of his much-missed nephew by running a marathon and raising thousands of pounds in the process.

Andrew McGeary, from Darlington, was determined to pay tribute to Nicholas Bell after building an unbreakable bond together during his short life.

Nicholas died aged just 21 after suffering with hypoplastic left heart syndrome – a rare congenital defect where the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped.

Despite having six heart operations in his life, Nicholas competed in skiing competitions and lived life to the fullest, until his last years.

He had a very close relationship with his uncle, 42-year-old Mr McGeary, who knew he wanted to make his young nephew proud.

Nicholas supported Mr Mcgeary when he ran the Great North Run a few years ago and would have been proud to know his uncle was taking on the London Marathon for him over the weekend.

Mr McGeary said: "The atmosphere on the day was electric and I was proud to be a British Heart Foundation Champion for such an iconic event.

"Knowing I was running for a wonderful charity that would have made Nicholas so proud made me determined to succeed.

“It was amazing to have everyone there cheering me on and to know that my sponsorship money will help the BHF raise vital funds for life saving research which will help make a difference to over seven million people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases.”

Mr McGeary completed the gruelling 26.2 mile course on Sunday in an incredible 2 hours 56 minutes and raised £2,750 in the process. He was one of more than 500 runners supporting the British Heart Foundation's research into heart and circulatory conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke, vascular dementia and diabetes.

Karen McDonnell, events manager at the BHF, added: “It’s fantastic to see Andrew’s courage and determination in helping us beat heartbreak forever.

"Without the dedication of our BHF Champions and the commitment of people like Andrew, we wouldn’t be able to fund life-saving research that has broken new ground, revolutionised treatments and transformed the lives of millions of people in the UK."