Man runs Brighton Half Marathon for hospice which cared for both his partners

A construction company worker will run the Brighton Half Marathon to raise funds for the hospice charity which cared for both his partners, who had cancer.

In September 2012, James Power, who lives in Watford, Hertfordshire, lost his wife Natalie to stomach cancer.

The couple were due to get married in Italy in August 2011, but instead had a small wedding in Watford, surrounded by close family and friends.

James Power
James Power and his late wife Natalie (James Power/PA)

Mrs Power stayed at a Peace Hospice Care inpatient unit in Watford from July to August 2012, before spending six weeks at her parents’ home in Henham, Essex, where she died.

“They couldn’t have done enough for her,” Mr Power, 53, told the PA news agency.

“The way they treated her, my family, her friends, whoever came to see her, was absolutely amazing.”

Man and woman posing together
James Power and Nicky Burton (James Power/PA)

In 2015 Mr Power met Nicky Burton, and said he was “in disbelief” when she was admitted to the same Peace Hospice Care inpatient unit in March 2019, after being diagnosed with an incurable lung cancer in about November 2018.

She died there on March 5 2019, at the age of 47.

Mr Power said that despite it being a “difficult” time, he wanted to raise funds for the place which looked after both women with “such love, care and attention”.

He has run the Brighton Half Marathon every year since 2020 for the charity, now operating as Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care, after a promise he made to Ms Burton.

James Power
Nicky Burton was a keen runner (James Power/PA)

In 2019 Ms Burton had been due to run the Brighton Half Marathon with her best friend, Debbie Brown, but by that time was too ill and instead cheered her on from the sidelines.

“While we were watching it, Nicky said to me ‘You could have run in my place, promise me you will’,” he said.

A year later he fulfilled that promise, running with 37 others, family and friends, many from Waterford, in Munster, Ireland, where he was born and grew up, describing it as an “emotional” day.

He said: “Nicky was big into her running and she used to run three times a week, up to 25 miles a week, and we used to do some half marathons and run together.

Photo on t-shirt
James Power will wear a special t-shirt while he runs (James Power/PA)
t-shirt on table
James Power said he made a promise to Nicky (James Power/PA)

“Nicky would glide as a runner, whereas although I come from a sporting background, I would sometimes look a bit awkward when I ran, and Nicky would always jokingly tell me, ‘look at your face, why don’t you run with a smile. It will be easier if you run with a smile’.”

He added: “We all wear custom t-shirts which have a picture of Nicky at the front, and words on the back which say, ‘running with a smile for Nicky’.

“We change the colour of the t-shirts and writing every year – it is a kind of off-white with dark green writing this year.”

James Power
James Power (middle) with his nephew Dan, then seven, and his niece Siobheal, then nine (James Power/PA)

This Sunday, he is running with 16 others and will be joined by some younger family members towards the end.

“For the last mile my niece and nephew (Siobheal, 12, and Dan, 10) and my friend’s child will join in,” he said.

He added: “People that knew Nicky well and people I’ve got to know over the years are doing it.

“It may be strange to say but it is something that I look forward to because I like the fact that people come together.

James Power
James Power with friends and family at the Brighton Half Marathon in 2020 (James Power/PA)

“People fly into Brighton, fly to Gatwick, and people still want to do this year after year.

“Her best friend is currently injured, but is going out an hour and a half early to walk it and she’s just determined to complete it.

“There’s people who have never run before who started as they got caught up in the story of it.”

Mr Power has set up a fundraiser at JustGiving: