A BLACKHEATH gaming group is holding a 24-hour marathon event this weekend to raise money in memory of one of its members who died aged just 49 last year.

The Black Country Role Playing Society will spend an entire day from noon on Saturday role-playing in a ‘Gazathon’ to pay tribute to Gary Price and raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Gary – who died a month before his 50th birthday – was a longstanding member of the society, which has been running for more than 20 years and is based at the Coronation Social Club in Blackheath.

Event organiser Hugh Blackwood said: “As a group, we were devastated to lose Gary, but knew we all had to do something positive and constructive as a tribute to our incredible friendship.

“Macmillan offered essential end of life care to Gary and his family, and so we want to raise as much money as possible to support them. What better way to do so than through Gary’s favourite activity.”

The ‘Gazathon’ will involve three eight-hour role-playing sessions, which feature a gamesmaster who describes the game world and its inhabitants and asks the other players’ characters to make choices within the game.

“On any normal games night, games typically last a few hours, so playing solidly for 24 hours with no break will set a tough challenge,” explained Hugh.

Having suffered from ulcerative colitis since he was 18, Gary had a stoma fitted in December 2016 and was diagnosed at the time with Stage Four bowel cancer.

Hugh added: “Gary managed his condition with humour and honesty. During treatment, he would still come to regular Thursday night gaming sessions whenever he could.

“Given that gaming and role-playing was such a fundamental part of Gary’s social life, holding a gaming marathon in his honour is a fitting tribute.

“The Black Country Role Playing Society intend for this to become an annual fundraising event.”

The event has been organised with the support of Gary’s wife, Lora, who he married in December 2017.

The couple were colleagues at Sandwell Council, where Gary worked for more than 30 years, most recently as a revenue and benefits customer services advisor.

Lora said: “Gary would have been chuffed and humbled that his friends at BCRPS are running the ‘Gazathon’ in his honour.

“The camaraderie he shared with the group was a major part of his life. This feels so fitting to him.

“I encourage everyone to get behind the group and support this fun event, raising funds for Macmillan so that other families like ours can benefit.”

The 24-hour event – taking place from noon on Saturday (January 12) until midday the following day – is taking place at Norton Village Hill in Shifnal.

It is not open to the public – all participants have been decided and are club members - but people can post messages of support on the group’s Facebook (BRCPS), Twitter (@RoleCountry) and Instagram pages.

The society is appealing for people and businesses to make donations to the cause via their Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/blackcountrygazathon

Blind Monkey Brewery in Oldbury has already pledged West Bromwich Albion match tickets to the cause, while UK Games Expo has donated tickets for its 2019 event.