by Michelle Norris
MEETING for a drink on New Year’s Day, a group of friends from Thurrock made a decision that will change their summer and the lives of hundreds of underprivileged children.
Joining together in memory of a friend they recently lost to cancer, the nine friends will be tackling an 84mile walk across Hadrian’s Wall this month, on a mission to raise money for local charity the Karis May Darling Foundation.
Set up in memory of 12-year-old Karis Darling from Corringham (pictured right) who passed away last year, and saved five lives through organ donation, the charity works to promote the importance of organ donation, while providing support and opportunities for under privileged children through performing arts and sports.
“If it was me, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with what they went through, so I have nothing but admiration for the family,” says Paul Warren, who himself has two children and is taking part in the Hadrian’s Wall Walk. “The Foundation is such a good cause and we’re hoping to raise £5,000 for them.
“We’ve already raised around £2,000, so a big thank you has to go out to everyone that has sponsored us already, especially FIT, who have loaned us a mini bus to get us to Hadrian’s Wall and back.”
On 18 June the nine friends, including Paul, will be walking 84 miles along the wall, which borders England and Scotland, in memory of their friend Steve Paxman (pictured), who lost his two-year battle with lung cancer last year.
“Steve was a very close friend and was quite an unassuming man,” says Paul, of his childhood friend. “He had three children and although he doesn’t know it, his first grandchild is now on the way.
“He was well known in the Corringham area and it was so tragic to see him get so ill,” continues the 46-year-old. “So now, we’re all joining together to do something in his memory.”
Joining Paul on the walk will be Steve’s brother Shaun Paxman, Mark Dennis, Paul Bates, John Bilhan, Paul Greene, Leonard Dee, Gary Willats and John Smith. Setting off on their journey to Hadrian’s Wall on 18 June, the group, whose ages range from 39 to 50, will trek across the 84 mile coast to coast terrain, raising money for the Karis May Darling Foundation every step of the way.
And with the blessing of Karis’ uncle, Dean Crompton, the group are hoping to raise as much as possible.
“I can’t thank the boys enough for what they’re doing,” says Dean, who runs the Foundation with Karis’ parents John and Kerri. “It’s been just over a year since we lost Karis, but it’s all been such a blur. I think now it’s all starting to sink in and almost hurt more. So the fact that these lads are pulling together to help has given the family such a lift through this tragedy.”
The Hadrian’s Walk takes place from 18-21 June. If you’d like to donate, visit karismaydarlingfoundation.org.uk or add to the collection bottles located across Thurrock at The Bull, The Railway Tavern, East Thurrock Football Club, The E.T.C.A Club, The Billet, The Inn on the Green, Cameo Cards and Cash Generator. All are situated in Corringham and Stanford-le-Hope except for Cash Generator (Grays).