With an elderly father struggling to cope following two major strokes, John Harding is running for a cause very close to his heart in this year's London Marathon.

Together with his running mate Lesley Wood, of Selsdon, John is hoping to raise £3,000 for the Stroke Association.

The 41 year old judo teacher, from Headcorn Road in Thornton Heath, wants the cash to help raise awareness of the shortfall in aftercare for recovering victims and to increase support given to all those affected.

He said: "When my father first had the stroke he was treated at Mayday Hospital, which I must say was absolutely excellent in terms of care.

"But it was afterwards when he came home that it became clear that the system has a long way to go to make sure enough aftercare is provided with most of it consisting of putting stroke sufferers in front of the TV.

"Having lost his speech and most of his balance my father is now almost totally dependent on my mother and I."

Having run a marathon before in aid of the charity before and due to his active job, John is already quite fit.

But John and Lesley, who run South Norwood Judo Club together, have put in several months of training for the event, on Sunday, April 14, and are hoping to add more sponsors to their list.

"I am really looking forward to running on the day," added John.

"Hopefully I will make enough money to make a difference to The Stroke Association and help their research into this devastating condition."

To sponsor John, contact Angela Purvey at The Stroke Association on 020 75660311, or email nationalevents@stroke.org.uk.