Family take on run a year after Paul’s death

Paul McCann memorial runners  Graham McCann, twin brother (grey shirt), dad Michael McCann (white shirt) and older brother  Richard McCann (orange shirt) training for the  Great Eastern Run. EMN-170919-085215009
Paul McCann memorial runners Graham McCann, twin brother (grey shirt), dad Michael McCann (white shirt) and older brother Richard McCann (orange shirt) training for the Great Eastern Run. EMN-170919-085215009
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Mick McCann never got to see his son Paul cross the finishing line of the Great Eastern Run.

Mick was patiently waiting with other son Richard and some of Paul’s friends when he received a phone call which would change his life forever.

“We knew Paul had had trouble with one of his muscles in his right leg,” said Mick, of Orton Longueville.

“When he never appeared in the expected time we assumed his leg was playing up.

“Then we had a phone call from the race organisers and they said we needed to go to the hospital. We never for one minute thought the worst,”

It was only on arrival at Peterborough City Hospital that the family learned that the 32-year-old had collapsed and died around the 12th mile of the half marathon.

Former London Underground worker Mick recalled: “I just stood there and could not believe what I had heard.”

Nearly 12 months on, the 60-year-old from Orton Longueville is preparing to run this year’s race in Paul’s memory alongside Richard (35), his brother Graham (33) and several of Paul’s friends.

The aim is to raise around £8,500 for CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) to pay for screenings of people aged under 35 to check for heart defects.

Paying tribute to his son, Mick said: “He was a very popular lad. At his funeral there were well over 300 people. He would just talk to anybody.”

One of the runners will be Reece Hill (30) of Bretton who grew up with Paul and lived with him. He described Paul’s death as heartbreaking, adding: “He was my best friend. He was genuinely the nicest person. He was a loveable character and always had a smile on his face.

“He looked after my children at weekends and they called him Uncle Paul.”

Reece secured his job as a train presentation team leader at Great Northern thanks to Paul’s help, but his close friend passed away before he started in the role. Dad of two Paul was a trainee driver with Govia Thameslink Railway and was only weeks away from completing his course.

Steve Castle, route operations assurance manager for Great Northern, said: “Paul was always positive about his training and was so passionate about becoming a train driver.

“He told me himself that it was a career he was looking forward to so much and saw it as a real privilege to drive trains over a very busy route.”

A Great Northern train was named after Paul following his death.This year’s race is on October 8 and Paul’s brother Richard will be wearing the same shirt number (3790) that Paul wore last year.

Mick, who last completed the Great Eastern Run in 1992, added: “I’m looking forward to doing it, but I’m not looking forward to the 12 mile mark where Paul passed away. That will be a little difficult.”

To donate to CRY, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michael-McCann9.