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Norfolk vicar and dad-of-six running London marathon inspired by his daughter's cancer battle

PUBLISHED: 18:26 01 February 2019 | UPDATED: 19:39 01 February 2019

The vicar of Cromer, Rev Dr James Porter with his wife Katie and oldest daughter Bethany, in whose honour he will be running the London Marathon in April.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

The vicar of Cromer, Rev Dr James Porter with his wife Katie and oldest daughter Bethany, in whose honour he will be running the London Marathon in April. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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A Norfolk vicar has signed up for the London marathon, after being inspired to lace up his trainers for the first time in more than 20 years by his daughter's battle with cancer.

The vicar of Cromer, Rev Dr James Porter with his wife Katie and five of their six children, pictured when Dr Porter took over at the church in 2015. Photo: MARK BULLIMOREThe vicar of Cromer, Rev Dr James Porter with his wife Katie and five of their six children, pictured when Dr Porter took over at the church in 2015. Photo: MARK BULLIMORE

Dad-of-six Rev Dr James Porter, who trained as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, was curate at Cromer from 2005-2009 before returning to the church as vicar three years ago.

He and his wife Katie, who is also a doctor, quickly became involved in community life, but their own lives were turned upside down after their oldest daughter Bethany was diagnosed with Hogdkin Lymphoma - a type of blood cancer - 18 months ago.

The viicar of Cromer, Rev Dr James Porter, who will be running the London Marathon in April to raise funds for cancer charity Clik Sargent.
Picture: MARK BULLIMOREThe viicar of Cromer, Rev Dr James Porter, who will be running the London Marathon in April to raise funds for cancer charity Clik Sargent. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Bethany, 20, had assumed a lump she discovered in her neck was a symptom of a bout of tonsillitis but, when the lump grew, she decided to see her GP.

“It got to the size of a duck egg,” she explained. “With two parents who are doctors, we had discussed what it could be, so while the diagnosis wasn’t a complete shock, as an active and healthy 19-year-old, to be told you have got cancer wasn’t something we had really prepared for.”

Within a couple of weeks, she had begun chemotherapy treatment and, although she lost her waist-length hair, she suffered very few other side-effects and was given the all-clear a few weeks ago.

Dr Porter said that although they didn’t know what the future held for Bethany, he and his wife determined to take “one day at a time.”

“Our main aim was to support her and our other children,” he said. “As a very close family, we felt we could travel the journey together, but also our faith is very important to us, so there was lots of prayer and lots of trust in God.”

Keen to support other families, Dr Porter decided to sign up for the London Marathon in aid of cancer charity Clic Sargent and has already raised nearly £2,500 towards his £3,900 target through donations and events including a sponsored bag pack and static bike and treadmill ‘marathon’ at Morrison’s supermarket, Cromer, which, since 2016, has raised nearly £17,000 for Clic Sargent – the company’s charity partner.

Bethany, who is now looking forward to taking up her place to study popular music and recording at Salford University in September, said: “My dad is exceptionally brave, he’s very focused and determined and I think he will definitely do it, and do it well.”

To support Dr Porter, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/james-porter20

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