TOP cop Nick Gargan is running the London Marathon to raise money for the families of soldiers serving in the Middle East.

Mr Gargan, 42, an assistant chief constable based at Thames Valley Police’s headquarters in Kidlington, said: “I couldn’t help but notice the seemingly weekly emails from my colleagues who arrange escort cover for soldiers who have died serving in Afghanistan and Iraq when they are repatriated to RAF Brize Norton.

“It got me thinking about the families of those servicemen who have courageously given their lives on our behalf. My thoughts turned to the Army Benevolent Fund. I thought if I could raise a few quid I would be proud to do so.”

Mr Gargan, a father-of-two, is being supported by ICTS (UK) Ltd, which provides the force with sniffer dogs. The company has agreed to match donations made by ICTS personnel, clients and friends.

Mr Gargan said he was not always a keen runner.

He said: “I gave up smoking in 1999 and started to pile on the pounds. I thought I’d better do something about it, so I took up cycling and running and got the bug. I’ve run the London Marathon twice before and found it a fabulous day.”

To support Mr Gargan, who has so far raised £1,900, visit Suzi Faye is running for the Multiple Sclerosis Society because her mother was diagnosed with the condition 34 years ago.

Dorothy Bowden, 76, was diagnosed when Suzi was just five years old, and over the years her condition has gradually deteriorated.

Mrs Faye, 39, a funding manager for Oxfam who lives in Cowley, said: “The London Marathon is a personal challenge, but more than that I want to support my mum and her local branch of the MS Society in Worthing.

“I only have to do this race once, but my mother completes her own marathon every day.”

Mrs Faye completed the marathon in 2002 in 4hrs 35mins. She said: “I’d like to beat my previous time, but I have a three-year-old daughter now and a lot less free time, as well as dodgier knees!”

To date, Mrs Faye has raised a little over £500 of her £2,000 fundraising target.

To sponsor her, visit Philip White, of Priory Orchard, Wantage, is hoping to raise £2,000 for the National Society for Epilepsy, which carries out research into epilepsy and raises awareness of the condition.

The 35-year-old, who works for Danone, will be cheered on by partner Rachel and their six-year-old son Charlie.

He said: “This will be the fifth marathon I have run, but I have yet to beat my first time of 4hrs 40mins and I have told myself I can’t retire until I beat four-and-a-half hours.”

Epilepsy affects 456,000 people in the UK – one in 131 people – and it can affect anyone at any age.

To sponsor Mr White, visit learn, or call fundraiser Pat Leighton on 01494 601414.

Kennington mother-of-two Rona Summers wants to raise £1,600 for a charity close to her heart – and has already raised more than £1,000. She is running for the National Autistic Society because her six-year-old son Tommy has autism and she knows from personal experience the everyday challenges the condition presents.

Mrs Summers, of Meadow View Road, said: “There’s so much misunderstanding about autism and what it actually means to live with the condition.

“Most people have no idea how common it is or how challenging it can be.

“The right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives and I want to help the NAS continue providing that support.”

To support Mrs Summers, who completed her first London Marathon last year, visit Deirbhle Mannion is preparing to pound the streets of London to raise awareness of an illness blighting the life of one of her pupils.

Miss Mannion, a teacher at Chandlings, Kennington, is running for the Thalassaemia Society. Her inspiration for the 26-mile run is five-year-old Sabrena Afridi, from New Marston, Oxford, who was rescued from a Pakistani orphanage in 2003.

A year later, her adopted parents Sobia, 40 and Amjad, 45, discovered she was suffering from Thalassaemia, which prevents her body producing enough haemoglobin and leads to a build-up of potentially lethal deposits of iron.

Miss Mannion said: “When Sabrena joined our school and I learned about her condition and daily challenges, I decided to run for Thalassaemia Society UK.

“My target is £2,000, but I would love to raise as much as possible.

“I have been training five times a week since the beginning of January and hope to complete the marathon in four-and-a-half hours.”

To sponsor Miss Mannion, visit Hollywood actress Anna Popplewell, who is studying for an English degree at Oxford University, is running the London Marathon in support of Shelter, the charity which works for homeless people.

The 20-year-old actress, who plays the part of Susan Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia films said: “I am not athletic, but I am going to attempt to be athletic on April 26 to raise money for Shelter.

“It’s a brilliant charity and I want to make a contribution to its wonderful work.

“I am training hard and am determined to make it to the finish line in a respectable time.”

Shelter targets homelessness, particularly homelessness among children.

According to the charity, one in seven children in the country are either homeless or living in overcrowded or poor conditions.

To sponsor Anna, visit annapopplewell