Newbury wife speaks of "pride" after family man dies following marathon
Father-of-two Robert Berry (pictured), aged 42, of Paddock Road, collapsed as he crossed the finishing line of the 26.2-mile road race and died later that same day at St Mary’s Hospital, London.
He was running for the National Osteoporosis Society on behalf of his “inspirational” mother Ann, aged 72, of West Sussex, who has lived with the brittle bone condition for two decades.
He had hoped to raise £1,700. Since news of his death spread, donations have poured into his JustGiving page. On Monday evening, the donations stood at £11,000. As of Thursday at 11am, no fewer than 5,957 people from all around the world had donated to his page, bringing the total to £70,195.
His wife, Gwen Berry, to whom he had been married for nearly 15-years, and speaking exclusively to the Newbury Weekly News, said that she and the couple’s two children had gone to the capital to cheer him on in his first London Marathon.
She said her husband had waved and smiled at his family as he passed the 21-mile mark. The next she knew of the tragic events that later unfolded was when she received a telephone call from the hospital informing her that he had died.
Mrs Berry said: “He was very much a loving father and husband to his two children. He enjoyed life.
“He completed the marathon and we are all proud of him.
“We will always remember that he was happy with life, and that he enjoyed what he was doing.”
Of the amount raised so far, she said: “I have been overwhelmed really by the warmth and support from people.
“It shows how much people respected and appreciated what he was doing. It has been amazing; you don't expect it.
“When something like this happens, it is a tragedy, but because of what has happened online, it has become the nation’s tragedy.”
Keen marathon blogger, Mr Berry revealed that he had been having breathing problems during training for several weeks leading up to the race which he was told may have been caused by pollution and the Sahara dust cloud which engulfed the UK last month.
A week before the race, he blogged: “I have now used my inhaler three times in the last week whereas I might use it three times in year.”
However, Mrs Berry said that her husband had always kept himself in shape by using the gym, in the past two years had started running, and had taken much training and dietary advice before running the marathon.
She said: “He always had an active and healthy lifestyle and running became part of that.
“He was always health conscious and very careful about his training.”
Mr Berry had on several occasions taken part in the Newbury parkrun – a free weekly 5km run at Greenham Common.
Organisers of the event described Mr Berry as a good runner who had clocked a sub-20 minute time at parkrun, and added: “We know a lot of parkrunners knew Robert personally, and we would like to offer our condolences to his friends and family.”
The last person to die at the London Marathon was 30-year-old Claire Squires from Leicestershire in 2012.
In tribute on Mr Berry’s JustGiving site, a close friend of Ms Squires, Victoria Hauser, said: “I know the awful pain your friends and family are feeling. You have lost your life helping others - rest in peace.”
Mr Berry’s manager and chief information officer at his work at Three UK in Maidenhead, David Jones, said: “Rob was a great guy. Aside from being great at his job he was simply one of the loveliest people I’ve had the privilege to know. All our thoughts are with Rob’s wife and family.”
Chief executive officer of the National Osteoporosis Society, Claire Severgnini, said that they were touched by the generosity of people who had donated, and added: “When the time is right, we would like to discuss with his family the options available for how the National Osteoporosis Society may use the funds raised in his memory.”
London Marathon organisers said in a statement: “The organisers of the Virgin Money London Marathon would like to continue to express their sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Berry and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with them all at this difficult time.”
JustGiving has also confirmed that it would waive its five per cent fee on any funds raised. Donations can be made to Mr Berry’s JustGiving page at