A FORMER Great British rower will run this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon in support of his uncle.

Fergus Graham signed up for the 26.2-mile race after his uncle Jamie Graham, from Wiltshire, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease six years ago, when he was aged just 59.

Fergus, a father-of-two, from Whitchurch, is hoping to raise at least £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK to help fund research into dementia.

The sales director for De La Rue, who won a silver medal at under-18 level at the World Junior Rowing Championships, hopes to complete the marathon in under three-and-a-half hours.

He said: “For my one and only marathon, I wanted to raise money for a charity that is very personal to me. My uncle Jamie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s aged 59. He is now 65 and his condition continues to deteriorate.

“He is unable to look after himself or hold a conversation, which is really hard on him and the rest of the family. But he’s physically fit and he has a positive mentality.

“Jamie was the life and soul of the party. He would have everyone laughing and would entertain us all with his musical talents.”

Fergus, 40, said he will think of his uncle while running the marathon, adding: “Especially towards the end of the race, as I don’t want to let him down. Jamie used to row too, so we’ve always shared that interest. In rowing, you need a never-give-up attitude, so I’ll be taking that mindset into the race.”

Fergus has raised funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK in the past when he joined Jamie and a crew of veteran oarsmen for a 25-mile row between Henley and Eton.

He described his uncle as a “real inspiration to me growing up”, adding: “He was such a personality but now you just can’t bring that out of him. He is a great man and he and my father were great buddies.

“I lost my dad many years ago and he became even more important to me and my brother.”

Jodie Vaughan, community fundraising manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We couldn’t be more grateful to Fergus for taking on this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK, and we wish him every success on the day.”

To sponsor Fergus visit bmycharity.com/ferguslondonmarathon2014.