Widow takes part in heptathlon in memory of late husband

TAKING part in a charity race, a walk or a cycle is a common way to raise money for charity in memory of a loved one.

But one determined widow decided to take her fundraising a step further by tackling hurdles, the high jump, shot put, 200-metre sprint, javelin, long jump and an 800m run.

Despite being 50 years old, Lilian McNab is determined to take on the heptathlon in memory of her chemistry professor husband.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hamish McNab, an academic at Edinburgh University, died of bowel cancer last November at the age of 60.

Mrs McNab, who lives with her children, Fergus, 18, and Shona, 14, in the Capital's Torphin Road, said she was determined to take on the gruelling challenge to raise funds for Bowel & Cancer Research.

Mrs McNab, who will tackle the gruelling challenges on August 20 and 21, said: "I've had a go at hurdles for the first time in a few decades and I've collected a few bruises in the high jump. My target is to finish and I'm happy that I'll have a reasonable crack at it.

"I'm hoping playing centre midfielder with the Edinburgh Hockey Club will stand me in good stead."

Hamish, a professor of heterocyclic chemistry at Edinburgh University, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2008 and died after a two-year battle.

Mrs McNab said: "His attitude to the disease was to hit it head on. He went hammer and tongs at publishing papers in his last few years and we got on and did things.

"I don't think he would be too surprised at my decision to do a heptathlon. He would have thought this was just another instance of me being slightly mad in my attitude to exercise and taking on more than I really ought to.

"He would also have appreciated that I see it as an opportunity to raise awareness and get some money for research.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"His belief in research showed in his dedication to writing papers throughout his illness and his participation in clinical trials right up to the end."

She hopes to hit her 1000 target by getting lots of people to donate a little each.

Professor McNab joined Edinburgh University in 1977. He was renowned not only for his academic prowess but also as an enthusiastic member of the staff cricket club, squash player and hillwalker.

Dozens of tributes have been added to an web page set up after his death. One of his PhD students, Craig Auchinvole, wrote: "Hamish was a big part of my deciding to study in Edinburgh. His enthusiasm, knowledge and kind nature were second to none. As a chemist he was great, but as a man who loved his family very much and was extremely brave, he was the best."

On the Edinburgh University website, several students paid tribute.

Mark Morrow said: "Hamish's love of chemistry always inspired me. He was a very approachable supervisor. Hamish guided me in my research and also in some significant life decisions. I'll remember him fondly."Ross Green added: "His lectures were always delivered with passion and such an intimate understanding of the subject that I was always left in awe."

A spokeswoman for Bowel & Cancer Research said: "Our mission is to fund research which will help ensure that bowel cancer is no longer a killer, and that people like Professor Hamish McNab will survive in future. We wish her well with her heptathlon."