'Like brothers': Highgate man runs marathon in memory of best friend

Rob Shakhani and Tyrone de Alwis,

Rob Shakhani is running the London Marathon in memory of best friend Tyrone de Alwis, who died in 2004. - Credit: Rob Shakhani/ The Institute of Cancer Research

A Highgate man is running the London Marathon in memory of his childhood friend who died from cancer, aged 21.

Rob Shakhani, 38, is hoping to raise £3,000 for The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in memory of best friend Tyrone de Alwis, who passed away from leukemia in 2004.

The pair met in sixth form and strategic advisory firm owner Rob said they "immediately became close."

He explained: "He was so bright and kind, and just the nicest soul you could meet."

Rob knew Tyrone had cancer when he was a child, but said he always seemed so healthy and well, so it was a real shock when he relapsed.

“We were both at university when Tyrone relapsed for the third time, and I spent months going back and forth between uni and hospital to see him," he explained.

Rob Shakhani

Rob hopes to raise £3000 ahead of the marathon - Credit: Rob Shakhani/ The Institute of Cancer Research

"After I’d finished my final exam in second year, I went to visit him, and when I got there, I saw his name had been removed from the door of his room – a member of staff told me Tyrone had passed away the night before.

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"This impacted me a lot. Tyrone was one of my best friends, and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

“Tyrone and I were close friends from the moment we met, right up until he passed away. He was an only child, and often told me he looked to me as a brother. We were always there for each other, and I want to be here for him now."

After he began running more during lockdown, Rob decided to attempt the London Marathon on October 3 for the cancer charity.

He said: "So many people close to me have been affected by cancer, and I want to help. I want to help fund research to develop kinder, better treatments.”

Rob Shakhani

Rob described his friend as 'the nicest soul you could meet.' - Credit: Rob Shakhani/ The Institute of Cancer Research

Supporter events manager at the ICR London, Robin Plowman, wished Rob the best of luck with his training.

He added: “We’re so proud of Rob and all the other #teamICR runners.

"The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge for us all, especially for cancer patients. That’s why we’re so excited to run or walk together again, to raise funds for our cancer research."

To donate to Rob's fundraiser visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rob-shakhani