A London Colney man touched by losing family and friends to cancer is running his first half marathon to raise vital funds for The Hospice of St Francis.

Edward Brazier, 28, of St Annes Road has recently given up smoking and taken up training to compete in the St Albans Half Marathon this Sunday for the Berkhamsted- based hospice.

The former Beaumont School pupil says the spur was losing first his aunt and more recently a close friend’s mum to cancer and seeing the difference the hospice made in their last few weeks of life.

Mr Brazier, a senior design technician for a surveying company, said: "When I found out that the Hospice gets just 20 per cent of the £4.7 million it needs to deliver its services free to people who need them, I was lost for words.

"I saw what a difference the hospice made to my friend Tony Gray’s wonderful mum Sue Theobald’s final weeks before she died of cancer.

"It’s just the most amazing place that gives the most incredible care and I’m still staggered to think that it has to raise £3.7 million through voluntary donations like mine. I want to do anything I can to help."

The Hospice cares for people living with life-shortening illnesses across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire in its inpatient unit, at home and in the community.

Ten weeks into his training, Mr Brazier has raised £580 after setting himself an initial target of just £200.

Mr Brazier's oldest school friend Michael Shinn, himself a marathon veteran, will be joining him on the challenge, providing much-appreciated moral support.

He continued: "I can’t quite believe that I’ve given up smoking, I’ve lost half a stone and I’m about to run my first half marathon.

"It’s going to be such a great feeling of achievement to finish the race and raise much-needed funds for such an amazing cause.

"There are hundreds of charities out there that need money, but The Hospice of St Francis is really dear to my heart. I can’t imagine what it would be like if it wasn’t there."

To sponsor Mr Brazier visit: http://www.justgiving.com/SteadyEddySTA

The Hospice has just five places left for the Great North Run on September 7 and is currently recruiting for its five or 11-mile Midnight Walk on Saturday, June 28, which is open to everyone over the age of 11.

Registration costs £20  and £15 for under 18s, which includes an exclusive pink T-shirt, refreshments en route, finisher’s medal and breakfast upon return. To find out more visit: www.stfrancis.org.uk/midnightwalk .