A special runner will be hitting the streets of the capital for this year's London Marathon.

To celebrate his 30th birthday, St John Ambulance mascot Bertie Badger is taking on the mammoth challenge - and beforehand he is training on the streets of Braintree.

Bertie is the mascot of St John Ambulance's youngest volunteers, the badgers, and he travels around the country meeting members of the public.

Speaking to The Times, Bertie said: "It’s a great pleasure to be able to run the Virgin Money London Marathon for St John Ambulance and I’m thrilled also to do something to mark my 30th birthday year and the foundation of the Badgers group 30 years ago.

"I obviously want to do my best in the race and have been going out hiking and running over routes ranging from five to 10 miles.

"Recently I ran from Braintree to Marks Tey, which really helped build my racing stamina.

"My training has been mostly free from incident but, being nocturnal, I have occasionally been out for night-time runs which gave my neighbour a bit of a shock a few weeks ago.

"As well as raising much-needed funds for St John Ambulance, I really hope that my participation in the marathon will encourage more people to run in the future and also inspire parents to enrol their younger children in their local St John Ambulance Badger sett so they can learn first aid and become the life savers of the future."

Badger volunteers meet once a week and take part in numerous activities which go towards their Super Badger Award.

To sponsor Bertie, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BertieBadger.