WHAT started as an honourable tribute to a "smashing little lad" has turned into an inspiring legacy of the county's very own answer to Forrest Gump.

The Tom Hanks character is known to keep on running and that is exactly what Bicester's Ewan 'Forrest' Gordon has been doing for the past few years as he has clocked up an impressive 55 marathons.

It has all been in memory of nine-year-old Thomas Laurie who touched the heart of Mr Gordon before the youngster passed away in February 2014 following a battle with Cockayne Syndrome – a rare genetic condition that causes premature ageing.

Since, the civil servant has pledged his support to raising funds to help find a cure so "no more children receive this devastating diagnosis and endure this suffering" as he writes online.

The 43-year-old, who lives in Brashfield Road, said: "I never imagined it would get to this level.

"I was not really fussed where it went, I am still running in memory of Thomas and for a cure.

"It is nice to be remembering a smashing little lad and still doing it.

"His sister Ellie, who is 14 now, has even joined her local athletics club.

"It is amazing that with a team of people we have raised over £50,000 in two years."

The legacy started about six years ago when Mr Gordon met Thomas, his sister Ellie and parents Cath and Richard Laurie at the church of the Immaculate Conception in Causeway, Bicester.

He describes meeting a "very special but very poorly little boy" who was full of life.

From then on Mr Gordon wanted to raise awareness and fundraise for research into a cure for Cockayne Syndrome.

Nine-year-old Thomas Laurie, of Bicester, was one of about 10 children in the UK to suffer from a rare genetic condition and died on February 19 at Oxford’s Helen and Douglas House hospice, surrounded by his family.

The degenerative condition, which prevents normal growth and affects the nervous system, meant that his life expectancy was severely shortened.

Two years on a team of fundraisers have raised more than £50,000 for charity, including thousands through Mr Gordon's efforts.

He said: "Cath and Richard are just really honoured that everyone wants to run for Thomas and are alway delighted to see anyone running in Thomas' name."

Now, Mr Gordon is invariably adorned with the iconic long hair and full beard of film's Forrest Gump and he has a friendly bet to thank for his adopted alter ego.

Mr Gordon, at the beginning of his fundraising journey, was challenged by a friend to - on top of his charity feats - grow out his hair to resemble the fictional character in return for a bigger donation.

He took on the challenge and has never looked back since.

He said: "Running is my first love, I love the community of running.

"You meet so many different people and there are some serious runners out there doing 30 or 40 miles a day - that's another level."


Throughout the film Tom Hanks character is known to run miles and miles often picking up support along the way with runners joining him or the iconic chants of "Run Forrest Run".

That is exactly the kind of support Mr Gordon has had throughout his fundraising including a gruelling 1,092-mile challenge running from one end of the country to the other.

This year he plans to take on marathons in Milton Keynes, Loch Ness and Glen Coe and will also be taking up the challenge of travelling from one end of the country to the other for a second time.


In July, Mr Gordon will support his nephew Jamie Gordon in cycling Lands End to John O'Groats in aid of The Unicorn School, Abingdon, specialising in dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia or speech and language support.

The duo will take to the road for the gruelling journey over 14 days in July and August - cycling between 80 to 100miles each day - and has so far raised around £400 online.

Mr Gordon writes online: "I will stop when my work is done, I will stop when they find a cure for Cockayne Syndrome."

He fundraises for a number of charities which supported Thomas and his family through their heartache plus others which work to help children just like Thomas.

These charities have included Helen and Douglas House hospice, support group Amy and Friends, Cockayne Syndrome UK, Lifelites which donates technology to hospices and Oxfordshire children’s respite nursing charity Rosy.


The runner hopes to take it to the "next level" over the coming year with running the length of the River Thames with a friend up next.

From Friday, May 13 the duo will take on the gruelling feat of 184-miles in just four days all in memory of Thomas "one butterfly" as they describe him online.

Mr Gordon said: "End of the day there is a lot of research going on and there is lots of children's conditions out there.

"They do great work at places like Helen and Douglas House and I added Lifelites into my fundraising because what they do is amazing.

"They donate specialised equipment to children's hospices such as this thing called the eye gaze which creates movement from using your eyes."

You would think training would be all day everyday for the runner who faces a 184-mile Thames path run, hundreds of miles on a bike from one end of the country to another, countless marathons and charity events such as the Helen and Douglas House Rainbow Run.

But Mr Gordon's training is all about balance running as and when he can around his working hours, he said: "I approach my running like the Mars bar approach - work, rest and play.

"I try and do 5k everyday but you have got to find the work, rest and play approach.

"Exercise when you can and play when you can."

If you want to follow Mr 'Forrest' Gordon's legendary legacy of fundraising see @MarathonMason or facebook.com/pages/Running-and-Cycling-for-Thomas-Laurie-Lands-End-to-John-OGroats-2016/1375764399376503