Stewart runs for Cancer Focus NI

29 March 2019

Stewart runs for Cancer Focus NI

Retired businessman Stewart Barbour (66) is putting his best foot forward to run the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.

Even his bad knee – damaged when he used to do the Cossacks’ dance as a student – doesn’t stop him from clocking up the miles.


Stewart can often be seen out training along the roads around Belfast complete with his rucksack and his Cancer Focus NI sign – a true ambassador for the charity.


He is running for Cancer Focus NI because of the vital support the charity is giving his wife Alison through its art and craft therapy services.


Stewart started doing marathons back in 1983 when he took part in the second ever Belfast City Marathon. He still wears his 1983 finishers t-shirt.


The next marathon he did was in 2010, after he came back from a trip to the Himalayas (he believes that, at the time, he was the oldest person in Northern Ireland to climb to over 8,000 metres). He caught the marathon bug and this year’s run is his 10th in a row. He has also run in all six Belfast City Half Marathons.


“When I went to see the doctor with my bad knee 45 years ago, he told me to catch myself on and stop the dancing,” Stewart laughed. “It can give me problems but I just tape it up, grit my teeth, think of other things and get running.


“I’m a wannabe actor and the actual day of the marathon is great fun. The cheers of the crowd keeps you going, with maybe 50,000 people to entertain - and as long as there are people to entertain, I’m happy being there. It’s a fantastic atmosphere and I love it,” said the enthusiastic runner, who is also a film extra.


“I used to do a lot of climbing so I’m used to carrying a rucksack. When I’m out training people see the Cancer Focus NI branding on my pack and complete strangers stop me and donate. The logo clearly stands out.”


Cancer Focus NI is a local charity, now in its 50th year, having started as the Ulster Cancer Foundation.


Stewart said: “I particularly wanted to run for Cancer Focus NI as my wife is going through this dreadful disease. Unfortunately, everyone can identify with it, should it be family, friends or colleagues.


“I’m very aware of the help available to support sufferers and carers, and of course research that the charity funds. All the money collected stays in Northern Ireland. It’s the diverse use of the funds that also makes this charity so worthy of support.”


This is the fourth marathon Stewart has run for Cancer Focus NI. One of his daughters, Helen, did the marathon with him two years ago and is running the London marathon this year for the charity. Another daughter, Rachel, has also done a Belfast City Half Marathon.


“I have some faithful friends and a lot of Facebook friends, who although fed up with me doing stuff, still give me donations. As someone out of the workplace it makes collecting more difficult, but amazingly a lot of total strangers donate and I can’t thank them enough for all their support.


“Thank you everyone, and have a fantastic marathon day!”