The son of a well-known celebrity ventriloquist decided to run the London Marathon to fundraise for the hospital that saved his dad after he survived a stroke.

Actor Jamie de Courcey's father, Roger de Courcey, who lives in Rickmansworth, was a regular on Saturday night entertainment TV programmes during the 1970s and 80s with Nookie Bear.

Queen Square in Bloomsbury, London, is home to the specialist hospital, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, where Roger was rushed to from Watford General Hospital for emergency surgery following a stroke in April 2022.

Watford Observer: Actor Jamie de Courcey and his father's Nookie Bear at mile 25 of the London Marathon

Jamie, 47, who lives in south-west London, said: “I was sitting in a nice coffee shop. It was a lovely sunny day and I thought I want to do something for Queen Square.

"I’ll run the London Marathon.”

Jamie was already familiar with the hospital’s charity, The National Brain Appeal, through his friend, actress Joanna David.

Her life-saving surgery at the same hospital led her to be a trustee of the charity for a few years.

He said: "I was delighted when The National Brain Appeal got in touch to say they had a place for me.

"Then I thought, I haven't run a race since I was about 12 and I'm 47 now, I’d better do some training."

The actor completed the 26.2 miles in just over five and a half hours, stopping at mile 25 to catch up with his wife Amara Karan, their five-year-old son Alex, and other family members who had made signs to give him a boost as he approached the finishing line.

Watford Observer: Jamie de Courcey (right) with his dad Roger (left) and mum Cheryl (centre)

Roger, aged 79, had been healthy before the stroke.

He had worked for multiple charities for 50 years, particularly the Grand Order of Water Rats, a show business charity.

Jamie said: "My mum and I thought he might be having either a stroke or a heart attack.

"The paramedics, who arrived mercifully quickly, were pretty sure it was a stroke.

"It wasn't until the next day in hospital that dad began to display the more classic symptom of slurred speech."

He remained in a coma for a few days.

Watford Observer: Jamie's son Alex and family cheering him on

In addition to medical treatment, Jamie and his family engaged in various activities to improve Roger's spirits while he was in the hospital.

They sang musical theatre songs at his bedside and joked with him.

“Dad hardly bothered the NHS since having an operation on his eye in the 1940s, by the pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe, of WW2 'Guinea Pig Club' fame, no less, but unfortunately due to his stroke he has now bothered it in a big way.

"We’re so grateful to the NHS and the amazing staff at Queen Square and Watford General.”

At the marathon, Jamie carried ‘The Bear’ for last mile in honour of his father.

He added: "By taking part in the London Marathon I was sending my best wishes and gratitude to all of the hospital staff who looked after dad and raising money for The National Brain Appeal to support the amazing work that it does."

To support Jamie’s fundraising, go to