A CRACK team of 124 runners is hoping to raise a staggering £225,000 for Havens Hospices at the London Marathon next month.

On Sunday April 13, the fondly named “Team Havens” will tackle the 26.2-mile route to raise the cash to help Havens Hospices give specialist care to seriously ill children and adults, and their families.

Many runners in the team will be dedicating their race to the memory of loved ones, including 18-year-old Liam Ellis from Southend Liam, a sport student at King Edmund school, was just eight when his nephew, Kieran Grixti, died aged 14 months.

Kieran was born prematurely by Caesarean section in 2001 and both mother, Liam’s big sister Louise, and baby were given a 50/50 chance of survival.

Kieran and his family were referred to Little Havens, in Thundersley, for respite and Liam is running next month in memory of the care his nephew and sister were given there.

He said: “I didn’t want to run for one of these big national charities, because I don’t have any personal connection to what they do.

“I like a challenge and love to learn so doing my course at the same time has helped my training, especially the nutrition and psychology of it.

“I’m prepared and really excited for it now.”

Also running is 23-year-old Abi Oliver, from Paglesham, whose mum’s friend died at Fair Havens Hospice in Chalkwell last September, having been diagnosed with cancer six months earlier.

The London Marathon will be Abi’s second and she said all the training and pain would be worth it to remember Mel and raise money for Havens.

Abi said: “Mel and my mum were like sisters, they lived together in their twenties and their friendship and closeness was like nothing I’ve ever known.

“I never thought I’d run the marathon once, let alone twice, but I just had to do it for Mel.

“Every time I go for a run and there are sunny skies, I think of Mel and say tomyself, ‘you know that I hate the cold, Mel, cheers for keeping me warm’.

“The nurses at Fair Havens all fell in love with her. Mel was always the one running around after everyone else, so it was a big deal to her that the nurses put her first – she was so grateful.”

Liam can be sponsored at virginmoneygiving.com/LiamEllis To support Abi, visit just giving.com/Abigail-Oliver1