Chris, 44, had cancer as a young man and although he went on to serve for 24 years with the RMP, the gruelling treatment he underwent at the time left him infertile. So, when it came to starting a family, the couple turned to SSAFA’s adoption service for military families.
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Six years on, and Chris is now a proud dad to two children, has left the Army and has moved with his family to Norfolk. Having served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Iraq and no less than four tours of Afghanistan, where he also did close protection work, Chris has swapped Army life for the media advertising industry; but one thing he hasn’t left behind is his competitive spirit. The result? A place in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019, running for SSAFA.
"I left the Army about four years ago so I’m not necessarily in shape!" laughs Chris. "Last year I ran a marathon in 4 hours 22 minutes but that's compared to the one I did in 2001 when I finished in 3 hours 44. The problem with old soldiers is they are very competitive and always want to do better so I want to improve on 4.22!"
Although Chris is hoping to beat his previous marathon time, he admits there are benefits to slowing down. “When I ran last year the difference I noticed from doing it 16 years previously was how much I noticed the atmosphere because I wasn’t running for a time. It was all about the high fives and the crowds and that is truly what gets you round. I remember really suffering from about 19 miles and it’s then that the support from the crowd keeps you going.
“My wife Sarah will be there supporting me on the day. I hope I will be able to reach my fundraising target and just really enjoy it.”
The family still attends SSAFA’s post-adoption support activity weekends and have benefited from meeting other families in a similar situation. "We have made some really good friends through going to the activity weekend," explains Chris. "Everyone thinks they know how adoption works and how they would do it but it’s not until you actually do it that you really understand the challenges involved. When it came to running the marathon, SSAFA was the obvious choice of charity for me to raise money for."
Chris has now started training in earnest - although he suffered his first injury without even leaving the house. "I was doing the hoovering at home and I managed to break my toe on the bannisters!" chuckles Chris. We at SSAFA hope Chris avoids any more accidents and wish him the best of luck - and a huge thank-you - for running to help support us in the London Marathon next year.