Optician swaps spectacles for sports kit to run London Marathon

Sheringham optician Roger Lee, who will be running the London Marathon on April 22 to raise cash fo

Sheringham optician Roger Lee, who will be running the London Marathon on April 22 to raise cash for the UK charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A north Norfolk optician will be swapping spectacles for sports kit, when he lines up at the start of the London Marathon in a few weeks time.

Roger Lee, who owns Roger Lee Optometrists in Station Road, Sheringham, decided to take on the 26.2 mile challenge after his older brother Stephen – a GP in Australia – had a stroke at the age of 52.

'He is fully recovered now, but it was a wake-up call and, although when I was younger I did virtually no exercise, as you get older you realise you need to think about doing something,' he explained.

Mr Lee, who last year completed the Great North Run half marathon in aid of Bowel Cancer UK, has previously volunteered with Vision Aid Overseas, travelling to city slums and remote villages in Africa and India to carry out eye tests and fit spectacles manufactured in workshops set up by the charity.

Because his fellow optician wife Pam carries out eye tests at a care home, he this year decided to raise cash for Leonard Cheshire Disability, which is the UK's largest voluntary sector provider of care services for disabled people.

Founded 100 years ago, the charity runs a care home in Norwich and provides short breaks at Sandringham.

It has more than 100 residential homes all over the UK, also offering respite care and providing support in people's own homes and at day centres.

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'What appealed to me about Leonard Cheshire is that it's not just about care homes, it also helps disabled people to remain independent,' Mr Lee said.

'But, being honest, I really didn't expect to get a place in the marathon, so when I found out I'd got in I wasn't sure if I was pleased or scared.'

Since signing up to an online training plan three months ago, Mr Lee has been setting off four times a week to run through the countryside near his home at Felbrigg, taking five-year-old cocker spaniel Molly along for moral support.

'It's nice to have the company, but I think the dog is more reluctant than I am; when it's time to go out, she rolls on her back and grunts and groans,' he said.

To support Mr Lee, visit www.justgiving.com/roger-lee3 or drop in to the shop at Station Road, where staff are supporting Mr Lee by collecting donations and running a raffle to win a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses.