Emotional tributes have poured in for inspirational marathon runner Ben Ashworth, who has died after a long battle with bowel cancer.
The 38-year-old husband of Louise and dad of Skye, Isobel and Heidi was diagnosed with the disease shortly before he was to tackle the Blackpool Marathon five years ago - but ended up raising thousands of pounds for charity as he later ran more than 20 such events, including the Blackpool circuit.
Messages in tribute to Ben, from Preston, on his Ben’s Bowel Movements charity Facebook page quickly passed the 1,000 mark after his death was announced by Louise yesterday. Among them was one from Pauline Elliott, who said: “Ben was a real hero and true inspirational in the way he dealt with bowel cancer and raised awareness.
“I’ll never forget seeing him at the Blackpool Marathon when I was running my first half and struggling. Then realising what he was going through spurred me on to finish.”
Kerry Metcalf said in tribute: “I have followed Ben since day one. What a truly amazing, inspirational man. He truly did tackle cancer and his life head on. This guy will not be forgotten.”
Peter Cobb described Ben as “A true inspiration, a man of positivity and faith. He truly fought the good fight against a terrible disease.”
Fiona Salt wrote in tribute: “You continue to be an inspiration - your bravery and dignity was awe inspiring. Your generous spirit will be remembered by your friends and family and shown in your children.”
Ben was told he only had months to live on being diagnosed in 2012, but after setting a target of six marathons in six months in 2014, he ended up running more than 20.
The charity was boosted last Christmas by a ‘cheeky’ Santa Dash in Preston’s Avenham Park, in which particpants wore plastic ‘bums.’
Ben summed up the message of the day - and his charity campaign at the time, saying: “If we can make people think about bowel cancer then we’ll have done our job. If through this event we can stop even one family going through what we have it will have been worth it.
“It’s good that people are willing to do something daft. If you’re willing to feel daft running around in these shorts then you might be more willing to go to see your doctor when you feel daft about your symptoms.”