Texans are often noted for their ambition and self-confidence and retired preacher the Reverend Ron Morris is no exception.

The Shipley-based Methodist minister says he has those qualities in abundance by boldly predicting he will win this year's London Marathon just seven months after taking up running.

Ron is quick to point out, though, that the victory will be in his own rather select category - for retired 68-year-old Texan preachers running their first marathon.

But he is still hoping his marathon efforts will raise up to £7,000 for three Shipley Methodist churches.

Ron retired as minister of Houston's St Luke's United Methodist Church last year but came out of retirement a couple of months later to move to Britain and take on the ministry at the Hall Royd, Wrose and Crag Road churches until September.

The former college basketball player said: "I am going to win the London Marathon - in my own category, which is for 68-year-old retired Texan Methodist preachers running their first marathon.

"Basically I've got three goals - to finish alive, to finish in six hours or less and to raise as much money as possible for the three churches.

"Until we came over here I'd never even jogged but I've always kept myself fairly fit and am really looking forward to London.''

Despite taking Sunday, April 14 off from the pulpit, Ron said he would still be promoting the church, adding: "Someone told me a lot of people run in fancy dress and that I should wear my clergy collar.

"I said, 'That's bad advertising on a Sunday' but I've now had a T-shirt printed which says 'I should be in church' on the front and 'You should too' on the back.''

Proceeds from his run will help fund roof repairs at Hall Royd, a new heating system at Wrose and disabled toilet facilities at Crag Road.

Meanwhile, the minister's coach and running partner, 65-year-old marathon veteran and retired accountant Jim Parrish, of Baildon, pictured with Ron Harris, is aiming to raise £1,000 for schemes in Africa run by the Methodist Relief and Development Fund.

Jim, who spent more than 30 years in Africa working as an accountant with the Government's Commonwealth Development Corporation, said: "I'm hoping to raise £1,000 myself. Last year we were sent £100 by a woman in Saudi Arabia who'd read about me on the Telegraph & Argus website and it would be nice if we got some more donations like that.'' Anyone able to sponsor Ron or Jim should call (01274) 584963.