Two sports lecturers have joined a team that will assist their wheelchair-bound friend in completing the London Marathon in April.

University of Worcester lecturers Dr Darren Cooper, principal lecturer in sports therapy and Richard Pepperell, senior lecturer and course leader for physical education and sports coaching will assist Gareth Rees, who is paralysed from the neck down.

The team are aiming to raise at least £2,500 for the RFU Injured Players Foundation.



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The charity has extended its support to Mr Rees, a former rugby player whose spinal cord was seriously injured on the field in 2011.

Dr Cooper, Gareth's cousin, and Mr Pepperell, a former rugby teammate, will be assisted by two other able-bodied runners to complete the 26.2 mile marathon.

They plan to navigate the course together, with no more than two team members pushing Mr Rees at a time.

Dr Cooper said: "In recent years the rules had changed to allow some assisted places in the Marathon, and Gareth has one of 10 places available."

With Mr Rees and his specifically designed wheelchair, coupled with supplies, the team will be pushing around a weight of 100 kilograms in total.

Mr Pepperell said: "We’re ultimately under no time pressures to get Gareth round, especially as the world record is around two hours and 35 minutes so we’re not going for that.

"I’m training for it, making sure I’m not the weakest link."

Mr Rees said: “Because I have only got movement in my shoulders and above I need to make sure of not bouncing around and slipping down and falling sideways.

“It’s a harder seat so it’s making sure I’m okay, especially my skin, even though I’m just essentially sitting there.

"I need make sure I am healthy when we get to the start line and am in a condition where I can do it.

"So, although I’m not doing athletic training, I still need to prepare for what the day will entail.”

The team aims to reach the finish line under approximately five hours.

Donations towards their cause can be made on their JustGiving fundraising page (