Merseyside firefighter takes on marathon challenge in dad’s memory

From fighting fires to fighting fit: a Merseyside firefighter is running the adidas Manchester Marathon to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in memory of his dad.  

Stephen McCann, 35, also hopes to raise awareness about heart disease after his father, also called Stephen, died while undergoing heart surgery.  

Stephen, who lives in Newton-le-Willows with wife Emma and children Tyler, 10, Clara, 7 and Rory, 3, praised the work of the BHF and said that without research funded by the charity they would have lost his father years ago.  

“He sadly passed away in April last year aged just 61,” said Stephen. “He went for an operation on his heart known as ablation surgery but it didn’t go to plan and he sadly passed away on the operating table”. 

Ablation is a treatment that aims to correct certain types of abnormal heart rhythms by blocking certain electrical pathways in the heart.  

“My dad had a history of heart problems ever since having his first heart attack when he was just 32 and living in County Armagh in Northern Ireland,” added Stephen. “He was cycling to work one day when it happened. He then went on to have a further two heart attacks and in the end had an ICD defibrillator implanted..  

“This went off one night last year and shocked him 22 times in one episode. He later had his fourth heart attack and a stroke before he sadly died while having surgery last year.  

“But despite this, if it wasn’t for the BHF and the research it’s funded we would have lost him years ago. So that’s the reason I am doing this for the charity, I just want to give something back”.  

When asked about how he is feeling ahead of event day in Manchester, Stephen was full of positivity and praise for the city: 

“Manchester is a vibrant, up-and-coming, friendly place with a great community feel. I anticipate the marathon and its spectators to reflect these characteristics, which will definitely improve my experience on the day”.  

Stephen has a large support team of family, friends and colleagues behind him, who are motivating him to better his marathon time of 3 hours 59 minutes. He said he would encourage anyone thinking of signing up to go for it.

“I know it sounds cliched but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity if you get the chance to run in a marathon. 

From my experience in the past, the people just keep you going, clapping, handing out sweets, helping keep your energy levels up, things like that. And when you finish the relief is unbelievable. 

On the big day, my wife and children will be there to cheer me on throughout the whole run and my family in Northern Ireland will be in regular contact with them for updates”.  

BHF’s events manager Ellie Mynes said she was sad to have heard about what happened to Stephen’s father but was glad that BHF funded research may have helped him have a longer life than he would have otherwise.  

“We’re immensely proud of the research carried out by the scientists we fund, but also immensely grateful to people like Stephen who raise the much-needed money to pay for this research,” she said.  

“We know that heart disease is a huge killer – someone dies from a heart or circulatory disease every two hours in Merseyside alone – so I am sure Stephen’s dad would have been proud of what his son is doing to help ensure fewer people go through the heartbreak that he and his family did”.  

There are still places available to run in the Manchester Marathon for the British Heart Foundation. Find out more at the BHF website.  

Stephen can be sponsored by visiting his fundraising page.