A Watford man is running the virtual London Marathon to say thank you to a charity for the kindness shown to his mum and dad when he “nearly died” as a baby.

Benjamin Vis, the local business manager at Metro Bank Watford branch, is running for Home-Start Herts on Sunday, October 3, after they supported his family when he was seriously ill in hospital with whooping cough as a new-born baby.

Benjamin’s parents Liz and Steve, both accountants, were matched with a Home-Start volunteer in 1997, who came in to support the family when Benjamin fell sick.

“I spent a considerable amount of time in and out of hospital and nearly died,” the 24-year-old said.

“It was a traumatic time for mum and dad who already had two children to take care of. My brother Dominic (now 29) was five at the time and my sister Jessica (now 26) was three, so they had their hands full trying to take care of a young family while their new baby was sick.

Watford Observer: Benjamin Vis with his family when he was a babyBenjamin Vis with his family when he was a baby

“It must have been so difficult for them. Mum barely slept, she was worrying and trying to be there for us all. Home-Start came in with a volunteer who helped look after my brother and sister so my parents could take me to hospital and visit me in hospital.

“It gave my parents a much-needed break at a really difficult time.

Watford Observer: Benjamin VisBenjamin Vis

“If my run can help raise awareness of the amazing work Home-Start do and funds for them too I’ll be really pleased.”

Benjamin was inspired to take on the London Marathon after running in lockdown last year.

Last summer he and Metro Bank work colleagues raised more than £1,500 through various events for Home-Start.

Benjamin contributed by running 5k a day and finished the challenge by running 42k in 4.5 hours along the canal path around Watford.

He ran from Cassiobury Park right down to Hemel Hempstead and back before it got dark.

Benjamin said: “My legs hurt terribly, the pain was awful, but by the end me and my Metro Bank work colleague’s collectively, through various challenges, raised more than £1,500. I got the buzz for challenges and it got me thinking how I wanted to do more.”

He is now in full training for the virtual London Marathon, running about 30K a week.

Benjamin added: “The next generation is the most important thing to think about. We need to look after children as they are the adults of tomorrow. If we can make sure children are looked after as well as they can be, with the help of organisations like Home Start, then it can have a big impact and make all the difference. It’s why I am passionate to support this charity.”

You can see Benjamin’s raising link here