Born in Birmingham, Stafford was formerly a fire fighter in the West Midlands Fire Service in 1998 before emigrating to Australia in 2006. He now lives in Adelaide with his wife Kirsty, who he married in 2018.
Arriving in Australia, Stafford embarked on an incredibly varied career path. He volunteered at an elephant conservation project in Namibia, became an outdoor guide and leadership facilitator, working with at-risk youth and physically and mentally disabled people before moving into environmental education, where he used his skills to help in developing countries, working on community projects such as building water supplies and schools.
More recently, Stafford studied for a paramedic degree at Flinders University in Adelaide and it was after graduating this year and ten days before starting his first job as a paramedic that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March.
“I was given a 50-50 chance of surviving for one year with chemotherapy,” he says.
“You know, I’ve been privileged and so lucky to have had such amazingly rich and varied life experiences so far – but there’s still so much I would have loved to do and places I’d have loved to travel to. Most of these are not possible now, due to COVID-19.
“But running the London Marathon has always been on my bucket list! My cousin told me about the London Marathon being virtual this year, and that was when I contacted Maggie Blanks at Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund to see if there was any chance of running for the charity.”
Not only did Maggie give Stafford a place in the Virtual London Marathon, she also gave places to Stafford’s close friends Sam Driver and Dave Scarman, who will run alongside Stafford as support.
“I was absolutely blown away and am really excited. I know it will be tough and might need Sam and Dave to drag me over the line, but I’m determined to complete the 42km and get my finisher’s medal!”
Stafford is continuing to work full time as a paramedic both during his chemotherapy treatment and his marathon training. He’s also setting up a scholarship at his former university to support students who start university with a disadvantage.
“Whilst we started with the idea of raising money, we had no idea that we would be supported by friends, family and the community as much as we have been,” he says. “There will potentially be around a dozen other runners joining us for parts of our run along the local beach in Adelaide, plus three others who’ve pledged to run the entire marathon alongside the three of us. My wife Kirsty will also join us for the final half marathon.”
“I’m not doing it to prove I’m strong or to show my doctors I’m going to prove them wrong. It’s to help others like me, inspire others, and show that nothing’s impossible.”
Stafford has raised AUS $12,000 (over £6,600) so far.