A GRIEVING father is calling on people to sign up for the Brighton Marathon in support of a charity that helped his daughter before she died.

Simon Cross, 52, has asked people to support Make-A-Wish which granted his daughter, Hannah, a wish before she died aged 13 in 2014.

Hannah Cross was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and the charity arranged for her to meet the cast of Coronation Street.

The challenges that Hannah faced before she died inspired Simon to take on challenges of his own, including 13 half marathons in a year, in support of Make-A-Wish.

The Argus: Hannah died aged 13 from cancerHannah died aged 13 from cancer

He said: “An event like Brighton Marathon is a big challenge – but it’s nothing compared to the challenges that critically ill children and their families face every day.

"Knowing that I can help more children like Hannah by facing a challenge of my own is hugely motivating.”

Make-A-Wish is urgently calling for supporters to fill 650 challenge event spots by the end of January, in order to grant life-changing wishes for more than 60,000 children in the UK diagnosed with a critical condition.

Simon, who is from Lincolnshire, added: “The impact of a wish, on the child and their family, is profound.

The Argus: Simon and Donna after a runSimon and Donna after a run

"Before the wish, it’s something you can all look forward to. During, it’s a time where you can forget about hospitals, scans, all the things that come with a critical illness.

"Then, afterwards, the memories last a lifetime.

“To help create those memories for seriously ill children and their families, I’m asking anyone thinking of taking up a fundraising challenge as part of their New Year’s Resolution to please join the Make-A-Wish army today.”

Referrals to the charity have doubled in recent months, with a particular increase in urgent referrals for children who sadly have very little time left or are due to have a major medical procedure such as a transplant or chemotherapy.

An estimated £180 million is urgently needed to grant wishes and bring light and joy to children and their loved ones.

The Argus: Hannah on the setHannah on the set

Jason Suckley, CEO, Make-A-Wish UK, said: “Wishes have the power to change lives by bringing light and joy to children and their families during the darkest times.

"More than 60,000 children across the country have been diagnosed with a critical condition, but the Covid-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on our ability to grant wishes.

"With 650 challenge events spots to fill by the end of January, supporters can make a real difference to seriously ill children by signing up today.”

Make-A-Wish is now offering readers a 22 per cent discount on registration fee with code WISH22.

Places are available in the Brighton Marathon and many more events, with dedicated fundraising staff able to provide support.