BY TOBY PORTER
A West End performer is taking on a half-marathon for animals – fitting in his training between eight shows a week.
The Phantom of the Opera cast member will raise money for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) later this month.
James Butcher, from Clapham, trained at the Royal Ballet School and is also a ballet teacher. He has been performing eight times a week for Phantom of the Opera for the past six months – as well as training for the 13.1-mile race.
He said: “I spotted the London Landmarks challenge on Instagram and my first thought was that I could never do anything like that.
Then I told myself to sign up – and you will have to. So I did.
Running it for the RSPCA was a no-brainer really as I’m a massive animal-lover. “I wanted to raise the money but also raise awareness about animal cruelty.
People are still quite unaware that animal abuse happens, but it does.
“It could be happening next door to you. But when you see a friend or someone you care about saying this is happening and I care about it, that’s when it really hits home.
“I’ve found so many generous people who love animals through doing this and some of them have started direct debits to the RSPCA as a result.”
James has been running with the cast and crew to help with training so he can push himself that little bit further.
He said: “Fitting training in between shows is difficult but I’ve really been enjoying it.
“I’m not built for running, I’m a ballet dancer so I’m used to a different kind of fitness but I’m getting there – slowly but surely.” The performer will have plenty of people to cheer him on during the challenge.
His housemate’s dog Bertie, a cockapoo who regularly accompanies James on walks, will be there on the day to wag his tail and bark his encouragement.
Donations from friends, family and cast members have already been flooding in and so far James has raised more than £500.
London Landmarks will be held on Sunday, March 24 starting at Pall Mall and finishes in Downing Street.
The half marathon will feature iconic London landmarks along the way.
To help support James and his challenge, sponsor him at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/james-butcher8.