A FORMER Dallam School pupil is to take on the challenge of running the London Marathon in two weeks time – just four months after despite undergoing emergency spinal surgery.

Russell Cooper, originally from Viver, near Hincaster, fractured his spine in a fall on the first day of a skiing holiday in Tignes, France, just before Christmas.

“At first I thought it was just bruised, so got up and skied down to the bottom of the mountain, but it didn’t get any better so I went to hospital,” he said.

The 24-year-old auditor was x-rayed at Bourg St Maurice Hospital before being transferred to Grenoble Hospital – where Michael Schumacher is being treated.

After an MRI scan, Russell was told he had a compression fracture which required immediate keyhole spinal surgery.

“They use a balloon in between two vertabrae and fill it with cement,” he said. “The doctor said it should be an instant fix and it worked – I was able to get up and walk around.”

Russell, who now lives in London, was off work until mid January and continues to have physiotherapy for his injury.

But he started running again in February and has set himself a charity target of raising £1,000 to be split between Spinal Research, Help for Heroes and Alzheimer’s Research.

He said: “I don’t think I would have had my operation in the UK as it’s a recent medical procedure, so I want to contribute to help other people get up on their feet quickly too.”

To sponsor Russell, visit www.ukvirginmoneygiving.com/RussellCooper