A SOAP star is tackling the London Marathon to raise money for Manorlands.

Karen Blick, who plays Lydia Hart in Emmerdale, is taking part in next Sunday’s (Apr 22) event in memory of a beloved family friend cared for by the Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice.

Margaret Banks died at Manorlands in 2007, after a battle with breast cancer. She was 58.

“I met Margaret when I was 11 years old through a mutual involvement with the youth movement The Woodcraft Folk,” said Karen.

“She helped out regularly at Woodcraft camps, craft fairs and other events and our friendship continued into my adulthood.

“She was a fun, feisty, politically-active, straight talking Yorkshire woman – an inspirational friend.

“I wanted to support Manorlands for all the care it provided to Margaret and her family

“She was actually in the hospice for only 12 hours, but Manorlands cared for her for 14 months.”

Karen said she had received overwhelming support in her marathon effort from fans and fellow Emmerdale cast members.

“It’s a real challenge – not so much the running but psychologically, to find the energy to motivate yourself to keep going,” she said.

“I read in a tweet, ‘when your legs get tired, run with your heart’. What a great phrase!

“Fans have been really supportive. I have received some lovely messages on twitter and that helps a lot, especially when you are struggling to keep going.

“When you feel physically really tired and someone tweets a message of support, it boosts your morale.

“Also, the cast at Emmerdale has been incredibly supportive. I am part of a running club, going out every Tuesday and Thursday, and I go running at weekends.”

Karen is appealing to other runners, who have a place in the marathon but haven’t chosen a charity to support, to back Manorlands.

Tribute is paid to her efforts by Hayley Ibbotson, senior community fundraiser at the hospice.

“We’re so grateful to Karen and all the other members of the team running to raise funds for Manorlands,” she said.

“It takes a lot of dedication over a long period of time to be ready for race day, not only with the training but fundraising too, and we’re really pleased to have their support.

“From everyone at the hospice, I wish each of them the very best for the day and hope they enjoy the marathon experience!”

All care services at Manorlands are free of charge to patients and their loved ones.

But it costs £3.4 million to run the hospice and only part of that is covered by statutory funds.

Every year, the hospice needs to raise over £2.3m in donations to continue to provide its specialist services.

To support Karen, go to her online fundraising page, at justgiving.com/fundraising/karen-blick.

Donations so far stand at over £1,880.

For further information about Manorlands, visit sueryder.org/manorlands.

People wishing to run for the hospice should contact the fundraising team on manorlands.fundraising@sueryder.org or 01535 640430.