A dad from Morecambe plans to run his first marathon in aid of Bay Hospitals Charity to say thank you for the care given to his daughter in Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s Neonatal Unit.

Mike Ireland was inspired to take on the Virtual London Marathon after his daughter Molly was born nine weeks early in February 2020.

He said: “Molly was the smallest baby born in Lancaster that month, and spent five weeks in hospital before being able to come home.

“Molly is now a ball of energy – you’d expect that with the way she entered the world. We definitely know we have her! She’s here, there and everywhere at the moment, but she’s perfect.”

Mike had the idea to run the virtual London Marathon on aid of Bay Hospitals Charity after taking up running through the Couch to 5K training programme three years ago, then progressing to complete a 10K and a half-marathon.

He said: “I always wanted to be fit for my kids and continue doing things with them for as long as possible, which is why I started running.

“I originally said ‘never again’ after my first half-marathon, but I’ve now done six in training. I’ve done 50 training runs and am aiming to complete the route in under 4.5 hours.”

Mike will be one of 50,000 people around the world taking part in the Virtual London Marathon, covering the 26.2-mile distance on a local route on October 3, the same day as the event in London.

Friends will be joining him at various pouints of the route to help him keep his pace.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust Non-Executive Director Adrian Leather said: “It is fantastic to see Mike preparing for his first marathon after taking up running just three years ago.

“I’d like to wish him the best of luck for this challenge, and to thank him for his support of Bay Hospitals Charity.”

Donations to Mike’s fund-raising total can be made at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/19966_8942378_28510