A runner has died weeks after collapsing at a charity Santa dash.
Derrick Wareing fell to the ground after coming third in the two-mile fundraiser for St Catherine’s Hospice on December 6.
Derrick’s wife Sue described how the 54-year-old former marathon runner had been joking moments before he fell ill.
She said: “He’d done a few charity runs before for different charities and last year he told me he wanted to do one dressed as Santa.
“I saw it advertised in the Evening Post and he went along and signed up.
“It turned out to be the quickest he’d ever run – he finished the course in 15 minutes. He was always pushing himself and writing his times down, trying to beat them.
It puts life into perspective but everyone’s got really good memories of him and a funny story to shareSue Wareing
“Afterwards he was asking me where his pint and his hog roast sandwich were.
“The chief executive of the hospice presented the top runners with a medal and I got out my camera to take a picture of him with it round his neck.
“And that’s when it happened. He just fell to the floor.”
The 54-year-old died in hospital on December 23, after failing to recover from cardiac problems.
Sue, 49, added: “It was completely out of the blue, there were no underlying issues.
“It’s been a massive shock for everyone. He was the last person you’d have thought anything like this would have happened to.
“It puts life into perspective but everyone’s got really good memories of him and a funny story to share.
“He always had a smile on his face and would do anything for anyone.”
Derrick was brought up in the Holme Slack area of Preston and attended St Gregory’s Primary School and Thomas More High School.
After leaving school he became an apprentice in a garage then left to start his own business, Fulwood Valeting, in Robinson Street.
As part of his work he took on youngsters from the Prince’s Trust scheme and also inmates from Kirkham Prison on day release, teaching them skills.
His love of vehicles led him to buy a VW camper van, which he, Sue and their children used to tour the UK.
At his funeral, on Friday, 17 camper vans formed a convoy behind the hearse.
“When I walked out and saw that, I was so emotional. He would have loved it”, said Sue.
More than 500 people attended the service at Preston Crematorium and 300 attended the wake. In his memory, £846.70 was collected on the day for St Catherine’s Hospice.
Sue added: “He loved the outdoor life. He loved wild camping and always took everything to the limit.
“Our camper van was our main way of getting away, but we also toured around Scotland on motorbikes.
“He encouraged his children to like the outdoors too. He was a loving dad to his son, daughter and his stepdaughter. He also loved being a grandad to his two granchildren too.”
Stephen Greenhalgh, chief executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “We are deeply saddened by Derrick’s death. Our thoughts remain with Sue and all his family at this extremely difficult time and we offer our deepest sympathies to all of his loved ones. We will continue to support them in whatever way we can.
“It was an honour to attend Derrick’s packed funeral last week and to hear more about the special kind of man he was. The fact the occasion was so well attended is testament to his vibrant and enthusiastic personality which was loved and admired by so many.
“Derrick’s commitment to his local community was apparent in countless ways, not least through his participation in the fundraising Santa Dash for St Catherine’s Hospice last month.
“We send our heartfelt thanks to all those who donated so generously at his funeral – Derrick’s legacy will live on in many ways, including through the specialised care that he has helped us to provide for local people. Thank you Derrick and Sue.”
You can donate online at www.stcatherines.co.uk/shop/donate and use the text box to highlight that it’s in Derrick’s memory. Or you can call the hospice on 01772 629171 or can send cheques to St Catherine’s Hospice, Lostock Lane, Lostock Hall, PR5 5XU, marking that it is in Derrick’s memory.