Finchley nanny in marathon fundraiser after niece diagnosed with eye cancer aged 13 weeks

L-R: Emily Ross with niece India. Picture: EMILY ROSS

L-R: Emily Ross with niece India. Picture: EMILY ROSS - Credit: Archant

A nanny is running a marathon for the first time to raise money for a charity that helped her family cope with her three-month-old niece’s eye cancer.

India Ross when she was a baby pictured with her brother Orlando. Picture: EMILY ROSS

India Ross when she was a baby pictured with her brother Orlando. Picture: EMILY ROSS - Credit: Archant

Emily Ross dreamt of doing the 26-mile challenge for years, but an initial application to run the London marathon for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) was turned down because there were no spaces left on its team. But while on holiday in the Maldives over New Year Ms Ross received the good news that someone had dropped out, meaning her bucket-list dream was a step closer to coming true.

“I was so pleased. I’m overjoyed to run for them,” she said.

The charity has held a special place in Ms Ross’s heart ever since it gave help and advice to brother and sister-in-law Dunstan and Venetia Ross when their daughter India was diagnosed with cancer when she was just 13 weeks old in 1999.

Doctors battled to save the eye for months, with rounds of chemotherapy and cryotherapy, but it had to be removed just before India’s third birthday to stop the cancer spreading and prevent the youngster, now 18, from losing her sight.

“It was a very hard time,” Ms Ross said. “Her older brother was diagnosed with diabetes just after so it was one thing after another. But luckily for India she was so young that she doesn’t really remember,” she added.

Asked how her niece feels about the marathon effort, Ms Ross – whose father Alex was vicar of St James’ Church in Muswell Hill for many years – said she thinks it’s fantastic. And Ms Ross’s nephew Orlando, 20, will join his aunt at the starting line on April 22 while India plans to cheer from the sidelines.

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Now Ms Ross, 33, and her nephew have a few weeks left to train with the North Finchley nanny – who has worked in Barbados, Geneva and the Middle East – running lap after lap of Highgate Wood in Muswell Hill Road to get fit in time – with dog walkers sharing bemused smiles as she laps them.

On the fundraising, Ms Ross said: “It’s painful after training, but running for CHECT makes every bit of pain worth it.”

But fiancé James Faulkner, 33, joins her on the two shorter runs she completes each week, sending text messages of encouragement when she tackles 25km or more.

Ms Ross aims to raise £1,500. Go to to sponsor her.