A journalist will run the London marathon in April to raise funds for a centre for the elderly which is threatened with closure.
Daisy Jestico, a former reporter with Archant London titles including the Hampstead and Highgate Express, gave up smoking for the challenge which takes place on 22 April.
She will run the 26.2 miles to raise funds for Henderson Court in Hampstead which will see its funds from Camden Council run dry next month.
The centre offers a lifeline to 800 elderly and disabled residents, who rely on it to provide cooked meals, sports and social activities as well as specialist help.
Daisy, who lives in Greenwich and is training in areas such as Canary Wharfy and the Regents Canal, said: “The thing that scares me the most is the mental challenge. I have run one half-marathon before and by the end of it my brain started freezing up and you just feel like you can’t go any further.”
Daisy, 28, left Archant London in December after four years as a reporter and is a now a freelance theatre and film journalist.
In preparation for the marathon she took part in the Brighton Half Marathon on 19 February.
Said Daisy: “Time goes much quicker when you’re surrounded by other people going through exactly the same thing. I managed it in 1 hour 53 minutes which I’m really happy about.
“It would be fantastic if I could run my first marathon in under four hours but I just don’t think that’s possible right now. So I’m aiming for just over four hours. I’ll be running 16 miles this weekend – my longest so far – so we’ll see how that goes.
She added: “I never thought I’d be able to run a marathon and it’s just amazing what your body is capable of. I used to run 10k but that always tired me out so going beyond that was quite intimidating and difficult at first but well worth it.”
The campaign to save the centre has been offered £80,000 over three years by the Pears Foundation in Hampstead on condition that £25,000 of that can be matched by the community.
Daisy, who plans to visit the centre next month, has raised £600 so far but hopes to raise £1,500, with whatever she raises being matched by Archant.
To sponsor Daisy and Henderson Court visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/daisyjestico