In April, 23 year-old Nino Bartolomei will be joining a crew of #TeamIncredible runners to take on the Virgin Money London Marathon in support of Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice, who cared for his father in 2017. This is Nino’s story.
Dad was born in Salerno, a small town near Naples in Italy. He first came to England in 1966 to watch Italy in the World Cup (for those who can remember that year, you'll understand why he didn’t want us to talk about that!) Arriving in England as a young man during the days of the hippies, the Beatles, and the mini-skirt, there's no wonder he left behind his law degree and decided to stay.
He always had big dreams of being a restaurateur and, despite arriving in England with no English or money, after many years of hard work he was able to open his first Italian restaurant in Winchester in 1978. This was closely followed by the opening of ‘Nino’s’ in Reading in 1980. I remember him saying that he painted the door himself and had £50 in his pocket, which was the float on the first day.
He was definitely an entrepreneur and opened a total of 11 restaurants over the course of his career. After he passed away, I took over the running of Nino's Trattoria in Pangbourne and I hope to carry on as Dad taught me.
It was the summer of 2017 when Dad started feeling unwell. He had cut down his working hours and was experiencing a lot of pain. In October he was admitted into hospital where they discovered that he had a large aneurysm and he was given a terminal diagnosis. They couldn’t say if it would be hours, days, or weeks, but they knew it was very bad. He stayed in hospital for just under a month before being moved to the Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice.
I stayed at the hospice five nights a week while he was there - he was never alone. From the moment dad was admitted to the hospice, the whole team was nothing short of incredible - so kind and caring. When dad arrived he was really not in a good way but throughout his stay we genuinely saw miraculous improvements in him, both physically and emotionally.
From the moment dad was admitted to the hospice, the whole team was nothing short of incredible - so kind and caring
He absolutely adored the restaurant and even became strong enough to come back in and visit - a gift that the hospice were able to give back to him. All these improvements are a testament to the amazing care he received, and thanks to the hospice we were able to have so many more quality months with him than the original prognosis suggested.
Dad passed away in March 2018 and since then I have done as much as I can to raise money for Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice. I passionately want to support Sue Ryder so that they can continue to be there for all other families in need, like they were there for us when we needed them.
If Dad knew I was running the London Marathon he'd say I'm crazy!
Through his restaurants, dad became somewhat of a local legend. I meet people on a daily basis who share amazing stories of him and the times they’ve spent with him over the years. He touched so many people's lives and was an incredibly loved member of the community.
If he knew I was running the London Marathon he’d say I’m crazy! He wasn’t a big advocate of exercise - on his day off he’d want us all to be sat on the sofa with him and we wouldn’t leave the house if it was cold outside! He’d think I’m absolutely mad, but I’m sure he’d also be very proud.
On the race day all my family and lots of friends are coming to London to cheer me on which I know will help me push through to the finish line. I’m feeling excited and ready for the challenge.
Support Nino for the London Marathon
Nino is aiming to raise £5,000 for Duchess of Kent Hospice. You can donate to his London Marathon cause via his JustGiving page.
Nino is running the London Marathon to help raise vital funds for Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice, who cared for his dad Nino in 2017.