RUNNING the London Marathon in memory of a "brave little girl" was an experience that a mum-of-three will never forget.

Tracey Croft, from Leigh, ran her fourth marathon in London on Sunday, October 2, in memory of Holly Prince.

Described by Tracey as an "incredible character", Holly was diagnosed with Bloom Syndrome in March 2020, which is a rare condition with fewer than 300 recorded cases worldwide.

With the condition causing immunodeficiencies, respiratory problems, and a higher likelihood of developing cancer, Holly passed away in April of this year, aged five.

Leigh Journal: Tracey had a "whole entourage" in support of herTracey had a "whole entourage" in support of her (Image: Tracey Croft)

A friend of the Prince family, who she calls the "strongest family I know", Tracey witnessed the "heartbreaking" journey of Holly's battle with her illness.

In honour of the brave five-year-old, Tracey ran the 26-mile race to raise awareness of Bloom Syndrome and raise money for Children With Cancer; an "incredible" charity that helped the Prince family "massively" throughout Holly's treatment.

Leigh Journal: Holly Prince passed away in April, aged 5Holly Prince passed away in April, aged 5 (Image: Holly Prince)

Tracey, a member of Gin Pit Flyers Running Club, said: "This was the fourth marathon I've run but this time it was more about the experience, taking pictures and videos, and raising awareness of Blooms Syndrome.

"I can't really put into words how amazing it was. It was full of emotion with crowds cheering you the whole way and I had a whole entourage supporting me.

"It was the best day of my life and I think everyone should go to experience the marathon once in their life."

Leigh Journal: Tracey said the marathon was the "best day of her life"Tracey said the marathon was the "best day of her life" (Image: Tracey Croft)

While many people run the marathon for a personal cause, Tracey and Holly's story was picked up by the BBC and aired as one of five personal stories throughout the race.

At mile six, Tracey's emotional interview told millions of viewers about Holly's story and Bloom Syndrome.

Leigh Journal: Tracey being interviewed by the BBCTracey being interviewed by the BBC (Image: Tracey Croft)

Tracey, 52, added: "I almost missed that interview because there were so many people running and I just couldn't find the interviewer.

"It was very difficult to do because as soon as I start speaking about Holly, and what the family have been through, I get choked up.

"But I'm so glad that I did because it's had a massive impact and donations have been flooding in from complete strangers.

"A lot more people have been asking about Bloom Syndrome too, and that's what it's all about."

Leigh Journal: Tracey ran the marathon to raise awareness of Blooms SyndromeTracey ran the marathon to raise awareness of Blooms Syndrome (Image: Tracey Croft)

During Holly's two-year battle with Blooms Syndrome, people from all over the borough have come out to support the Prince family.

Players, coaches and parents at Atherton Town Football Club, where Holly's dad Mark is a manager, are said to have particularly rallied around the family, while a Charity Ball that Mark organised at Leigh Sports Village raised more than £20k for Children with Cancer and other charities that supported the family.

Since Tracey's race and televised interview, the response has been "incredible" and she has been inundated with donations and messages of support.

Leigh Journal: Tracey has been inundated with messages since her televised interviewTracey has been inundated with messages since her televised interview (Image: Tracey Croft)

Sharing her fundraising page, the Prince family said: "You did incredible in your interview for the BBC. We are so proud of you.

"You told the world about our beautiful Holly and you have raised so much awareness of Bloom Syndrome as well as gaining support for the amazing charity Children with Cancer UK.

"[You gave] an emotional and very heartfelt interview when you had already run 6 miles and had 20 to go, it must have been extremely difficult. But you did it and you looked and sounded amazing.

"Holly would be so proud of you as we all are."

To show your support for Tracey's marathon and the Prince family, you can donate to her fundraising page here.

To find out more about Holly's story and the different fundraising efforts for her, you can visit the family's Facebook page here.

Leigh Journal: Holly PrinceHolly Prince (Image: Holly Prince)