Gordon’s gruelling race in memory of sister-in-law

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A Belper man has presented more than £1,700 to the hospice that cared for his sister-in-law after completing a gruelling fundraising marathon in her honour.

Gordon Russell, aged 65, from Bargate, completed 13-mile Great North Run in September memory of Jill Bilbie, his wife’s twin sister, who was supported in her final days by nurses from Treetops Hospice.

In 2003, a year after Jill had a major operation for bowel cancer, she and Gordon watched two friends run the the same race in Newcastle. At the end, Jill turned to Gordon and said “When I beat this cancer, will you run the Great North Run with me?”

Sadly, the cancer beat Jill, and she died in September 2012, aged 62. In 2013, exactly 10 years after making the original agreement, Gordon returned to Newcastle to run the race for Treetops.

He said: “We couldn’t have had anybody better. Hence why I did the run. The weather was horrendous. The first eight miles, the rain was coming down sideways. But you just had to keep plodding on.”

Treetops Hospice fundraiser Gay Evans said “There was never any doubt in my mind that he would finish the event as the memory of his sister-in-law.”

Jill’s husband Keith Bilbie thanked nurse Liz Docker for her ‘brilliant’ care in Jill’s last few days.