A FATHER from Andover is running the Reading half marathon this weekend with a group of friends to raise money for charity for that helps his son.

Mike Collinson, aged 26, Natalie Wade, who’s 30, and 32-year-old James Dunn will be running the 13 miles to raise money for DEBRA, a national charity that supports sufferers of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) and their families.

Mike’s 15-month-old son, Rocco, was born with a rare type of EB, which in its most severe case can cause the skin to blister and tear at the slightest friction – or even spontaneously.

Rocco became ill when he was a week old, and was diagnosed several months later at Great Ormond Street Hospital with a rare version of EB.

But incredibly, and fortunately, his form of the disease should mean a mainly normal, unaffected life.

Rocco’s only the second child born with this form of EB in the last 10 years in the UK.

Natalie said: “Unfortunately, there’s no known cure for EB, so we want to raise as much money and awareness for the charity that we can.

“Mike and Rocco’s mum, Leah, know he has been lucky to not have the worst form of the condition.

“Other people have it far, far worse and need all the help they can get.”

Training has been tough for the team, and due to the floods and the winds they’ve mainly been forced indoors.

However, the Andover Leisure Centre has stepped in.

“We’ve been building up our fitness in the gym at Andover Leisure Centre by using the treadmills and going to classes,” said Natalie.

“Mike has also been suffering from a knee injury, so he’s been swimming in the leisure centre pool to help his recovery.”

Teri Wilson, fitness and studio coordinator at Andover Leisure Centre, said: “Natalie, Mike, James and Sarah are training for a fantastic cause, and we wish them the best of luck.

“It’s always very inspiring to see people change lives through exercise and being active.”

People can sponsor the team by searching on Virgin Money Giving’s website for Natalie Wade, or going to http://bit.ly/1hpPolh.