Big-hearted Sunderland uncle among thousands taking on Great North Run

Ian Jeff with his niece Erin Matthews, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Ian Jeff with his niece Erin Matthews, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
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TENS of thousands of runners took to the streets to raise cash for good causes at the Great North Run.

Among those pounding the pavements was Ian Jeff, who was inspired by his 13-month-old niece, Erin Matthews.

Kevin McLernon taking part in the Great North Run

Kevin McLernon taking part in the Great North Run

Little Erin, of Tunstall, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of cancer, earlier this year and is undergoing five days of chemotherapy every three weeks.

To date, she has responded well to the treatment and medics have said her tumours have reduced by 50 per cent.

Running for Children With Cancer, Ian made it to the finish line in just over one hour and 30 minutes – so fast, Erin’s mum Debbie Mathews, 36, and other relatives did not make it to the finish line to see him.

He said: “I’d been thinking about doing the Great North Run but didn’t have anything to do it for.

“Then we found out about Erin and I decided to do it for the charity, to help other children in the future.

“I’ve been doing boot camps three times a week, hill sprints once a week and a seven-mile run. I’d never gone further than seven miles though.”

Ian, of Grangetown, has smashed his minimum target of £350, with his total raised so far standing at £1,200.

Debbie said: “It’s amazing what he’s done.

“He just decided once Erin was diagnosed that he wanted to give something back.

“She was particularly poorly when she was diagnosed. She stayed at the Newcastle RVI for six weeks before she was allowed home.

“She’s doing well now. She’s had four rounds of chemo so far. There’s no definite treatment plan. They just have to keep scanning her after every course of chemo but the doctors are hopeful of curing her.

“She has side effects like a really sore mouth but being so young, I think she just pulls herself round really quickly.

“I want to thank everyone who’s sponsored Ian, he’s got an amazing total so far.”

You can still sponsor Ian and support Children With Cancer but going online to Ian’s Just Giving page at

Double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah ended his historic season by winning the weekend’s Great North City Games before starting yesterday’s event.

He was joined by North East Olympic gold medal winning rower Kat Copeland, long jump champion Greg Rutherford, boxer Nicola Adams and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds as honorary starters.

Biggest Loser is a great winner

BIGGEST Loser Kevin McLernon joined the 40,000 people taking part in the event.

The winner of the ITV show marked the anniversary of his weight loss journey by taking part in the show, which saw him slim down from 32st 2lb to 19st 4lb.

The 39-year-old, from Seaburn, managed to complete the event in just under three hours, describing it as the hardest thing he has ever done.

He said: “I got to the end and that’s the main thing,” said Kevin. “I think it’s the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done though, tougher than anything on Biggest Loser.

“It was a good experience and the crowds were really supportive. I’m not sure I enjoyed it though, I’m not sure that’s the right word I’d use.

“My mum’s house is right at the end of the route so I went in for a cup of tea and some biscuits after.”

Twitter: @sunechomark