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Stortford gym member aims to run 13 races for hospice which cared for best pal

Ray Cogan after the first of his 13 events, the Ashridge Duathlon
Ray Cogan after the first of his 13 events, the Ashridge Duathlon

Bishop's Stortford gym member Ray Cogan aims to complete a marathon 13 races in 12 months for St Clare Hospice.

Ray as an usher at best friend Dave Ramms wedding
Ray as an usher at best friend Dave Ramms wedding

The father of two, a regular at Koru on the Peek Business Park, Woodside, is running them in memory of best friend Dave Ramm, who was cared for by the Hastingwood charity in 2015.

Stansted carpenter Dave was diagnosed with terminal cancer in September 2015 and was admitted to St Clare in October. He died on November 25, just seven weeks after being diagnosed. He was 35.

Dave and Ray, also 35 and from Stansted, were friends for nearly 20 years, having first met at Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth.

Ray said: “After school I joined the Army, so I lived away for a while, but we stayed in touch. I was one of Dave’s ushers at his wedding. Some friendships you dip in and out of, but that was never the case with me and Dave.

Ray's 13 events for St Clare Hospice

Jan 28: Ashridge Duathlon

Feb 25: Roding Valley Half Marathon

Mar 18: Colchester Race

Apr 8: Paris Marathon

Apr 22: London Marathon

May 27: Mayfield Standard Triathlon

Jun 16: Dam Buster Olympic Triathlon

Jul 15: Thorpe Park Olympic Triathlon

Aug 5: AJ Bell Olympic Plus Triathlon

Sep 23: Weymouth Half Iron Man

Oct 27: Beachy Head Marathon

Nov 11: Stebbing Race

Dec 2: St Clare 5k Santa Run

“The staff and volunteers at St Clare did so much for everyone – not just for Dave, but for his friends and family as well.

“I was so impressed by the level of care and compassion from all the people that work at St Clare, especially the volunteers. They have their own lives to live, they probably have a husband or wife and children at home and other hobbies they could pursue, but they choose to come to St Clare in their own time and devote their own time and effort.

“I think giving up your time to help other people at a very difficult point in their lives is a very selfless commitment and an honourable thing to do. That’s why I’m doing my part to help St Clare by fundraising this year.”

Dave’s widow, Sophie, a commercial sales director, now lives in Bishop’s Stortford.

She said: “We got engaged in 2012, had bought a house by 2013 and were married in September 2014. We were just about to celebrate our first wedding anniversary when Dave went to the doctors because he had backache. Being a carpenter, he often had backache, so we thought he had slipped a disk. It never crossed our minds that it would be something serious.

“On the 28th of September 2015, Dave was diagnosed with cancer. They did a scan and when they showed us it, all I could see were these big black spots all the way down his spine. I knew straight away what it was.

“Dave was told he had a very rare type of thyroid cancer and that there was no treatment for it. It had already spread to his spine, his shoulders, his skull, his lymph nodes and his lungs. Dave was frightened and didn’t know what was going on – it was horrendous.”

Ray, who works as a risk manager, ran his first marathon in 2009 while serving in the Royal Engineers. He secured a place in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon after he applied to St Clare Hospice for one of its six Gold Bond places.

He was inspired to expand his fundraising efforts by Bishop’s Stortford Running Club member Clare Gallagher, who last year ran 12 races for St Clare.

Ray said: “I’m most excited about the London Marathon. This will be my third time running it and it’s incredible, but I’m also really looking forward to doing the Paris Marathon. They are both in April, only two weeks apart, so I’m a bit crazy taking on two marathons so close together. But I know how much St Clare helped Dave and Sophie, and that will spur me on to complete the challenge.”

Ray’s challenge will see him cover more than 250 race miles throughout the year, plus an estimated 1,500 miles in training.

He aims to raise £6,000. To sponsor him visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RayCogan

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