A YOUNG fundraiser will be taking part in his first Great South Run in memory of his father.

Alec Parcell watched his dad Robert compete in 2003 and hoped they would one day be able to run the race together.

But his hopes were 'shattered' when he suddenly died three years later after suffering a heart attack.

The 24-year-old, from Tilehurst, will take on the challenge in Portsmouth on October 21 to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

Alec said: “Having someone ripped away from you aged 12 is tough. You don't really understand the enormity of it until they really don't return home.

“He worked very hard to provide a life full of experiences for me and I learnt a lot from him.

“It is tough to handle but thanks to an amazingly supportive family and close friends I got on with life, as I know he would have wanted me to. The journey continues, just without him by my side.

“Fortunately, I have been very lucky to have some amazing experiences along the way that wouldn't have been possible without him and I thank him for being able to provide that for me.”

This year marks 15 years since his father completed the Great South Run and Alec ran the junior race.

Alec lives with the constant worry that he could develop a similar heart condition as his father and is attending regular check-ups.

He admitted to feeling emotional about coming back to Portsmouth, where he studied and watched his father take part in the Great South Run.

He added: “I wanted to run it with him one day. Unfortunately, this dream was shattered.

"However, he is always beside me offering support when I run and really gives me something extra in the last few miles of a race when I am finding it tough.

"I cannot wait to be sprinting over the finish line with him pulling me through!”

Alec will join 20,000 runners and enjoy sites, such as the historic Dockyard and Spinnaker Tower, during his journey.