Alasdair set to run half marathon in memory of best pal Des

A Jedburgh runner taking part in his first half marathon is dedicating every step to his best friend who died from cancer last year.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 11:23 am
Alasdair Mcilroy.

Alasdair Mcilroy is taking on the Scottish Half Marathon in Edinburgh next month in aid of Cancer Research UK and in memory of pal Des Devine who died aged just 54 last October.

The pair were firm friends for decades sharing a love for sports including golf, rugby, rallying, cricket and football.

They were both members of Hawick Opera Company and when Des married his wife Sasha at Heiton’s Roxburghe Hotel in 2008, Alasdair was best man.

Des Devine and Alasdair Mcilroy in 2008.

“Des had an immeasurable impact on so many lives including my own and I was honoured to be his best man on his wedding day,” Alasdair, 47, said.

“His zest for life was all too obvious with every single thing he did. He loved sport and socialising.

“He took challenges on with positivity and as long as people continue to remember him, speak of him and love him then Des will never truly be gone. His battle with cancer was faced up to with great dignity.

“Through his fight, he was still more interested in everyone else’s life and plans.

“The finish line of the Scottish half marathon will be an emotional moment of personal reflection and I’ll dedicate my efforts to Des.”

Des, who moved from the Borders to Inverness in 2004, was diagnosed with bowel and liver cancer in October 2013, five weeks before his 50th birthday. After two major operations and chemotherapy he was well enough to return to his love for sport, travelling, music and drama by summer 2014.

A talented musician, he was a singer with the Rooty Ma Toot Big Band and also a keen member of the Inverness Musical Theatre company and the Florians drama club.

But last year cancer spread to his bones and he died at the Highland Hospice, Inverness with his wife Sasha by his side.

She later paid tribute to Alasdair at a fundraising dinner for Highland Hospice.

“Alasdair was a great support to both of us when Des got ill,” Sasha, 47, said. “Des was an only child but he always said that Alasdair was like a brother to him.

“Des always said he was determined to make the cancer fit around him and not the other way round. We did so much in those five years after he was diagnosed.

“Despite the huge, gaping Des shaped hole in my world, I feel incredibly lucky and privileged that Des was in my life at all, let alone my best friend and husband.”

Alasdair, a design manager for a housing developer, will join thousands taking part in the half marathon on Sunday, September 22, from Meadowbank to Musselburgh Racecourse in East Lothian.

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Cancer Research UK is the official charity for the event which also includes the option of a 10K event.

Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “It’s thanks to the support of people like Alasdair and Sasha that we are able to research kinder, more effective treatments for cancer.

“Every day, around 88 people in Scotland are diagnosed with cancer. Everyone who pulls on their trainers for Cancer Research UK will know every step they take brings us closer to winning the race against the disease.”