A PENSIONER has appealed for help in getting a message of gratitude to a young boy who helped him finish last month's Stirling Marathon.

With the news this week that the marathon won't be running again after just three years, it brought a great deal of sadness to Noel Barry, whose annual pilgrimage to Stirling from his home in Ireland will no longer take place.

It isn't all doom and gloom for Noel, however, who felt it necessary to share a memory from this year's race which he will cherish forever.

While close to giving up around 23 miles in, Noel passed a young boy and his dad who handed him a note which gave him the motivation to kick on and finish the race.

Noel said: "I was saddened to read that the Stirling Marathon will not be held next year and I for one will miss my annual trip with my family to take part in this event. However, I can't let it go without telling the following little story.

"On April 28, I visited Stirling to take part in the Stirling Marathon. It was my third time to take part in this wonderful event.

"I would like to thank everyone involved in the organisation of an unforgettable day, but I especially want to thank one little boy and his dad.

"I have ran in many marathons in my 72 years, but unfortunately I am not getting any younger. As the years go by I am starting to struggle just a little bit. This occasion was no different.

"As I reached the latter stages of the race, I was really beginning to slow down. I am thinking: 'I'll be lucky to finish this'."

It was then that everything changed for Noel.

He said: "It was around the 22 or 23 mile mark, just coming back into the city and I was nearly gone.

"Up ahead of me, the runners were strung out. I noticed a man and a little boy at the roadside.

"The boy was handing something to the tired runners as they passed. I assumed that he was giving them sweets as all along the course people were doing this.

"As I came alongside them, the little lad ran over to me and handed me something. It was not sweets at all, but a piece of paper with something written on it.

"I could not read it because I wasn't wearing my glasses. I asked the man to tell me what was written on it and he replied: 'It says: 'You can do it'."

For Noel, it meant the world and he now wants the boy and his father to know what it meant to him.

He continued: "I just want to let that man and boy know that one act of encouragement worked wonders.

"From there to the finish I was inspired and I finished with my wife and her friends cheering me to the line."