Marathon is sister’s tribute to tragic Leah who died aged 15
- Credit: Nick Butcher
With just 14 months between them Keata and Leah Wilby were more like best friends than sisters.
Rarely apart they moved from battling over Barbies to singing into their hairbrushes to the likes of JLS and One Direction, their favourite bands.
Leah’s death aged just 15 from cancer, her prom dress hanging unworn in the wardrobe, was unthinkable - something the family knew was coming but held at arm’s length taking every day as it came.
Now seven years later Keata, of Garrison Road, Great Yarmouth, is pulling on her running shoes with the best of inspirations - her beautiful big sister who never complained and always thought of others first.
The 21-year-old hotel receptionist is running for the charity set up in her sister’s name - The Leah Wilby Foundation, which operates a holiday unit Leah’s Lounge - and carrying on her caring legacy.
In the seven years since Leah died it has provided treat trips and much needed holidays for families from all over the UK with a seriously ill child.
Keata, who enjoyed sports at school but has barely jogged round the block since, said she was daunted by the London Marathon challenge, but excited to be part of such a big event in the capital.
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Training is about to start in earnest helped by the gift of a free gym membership by the Marina Centre in support of the foundation.
“When my sister died when I was 14 it was difficult to understand,” she said. “They were using words I didn’t know.
“We were like best friends. Like two peas in a pod. At school I would sit with her at break time and lunch time. “I was always with her and she was protective over me but if anyone ever upset her I would be there straight away to stick up for her.
“We tried to forget about the cancer and carry on with normal life not thinking that the day was going to come when she was going to die.”
Now she is planning her wedding with security guard Daniel Dyball, 24, a process made bitter sweet when venues ask if she has a sister she would like to be a bridesmaid.
Keata, a fashion and textile graduate is hoping to raise £1,000.