Fundraising campaign hits £30,000

Published on: 29 Jan 2018

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A FUNDRAISING campaign in memory of a local teenager has reached more than £30,000 - all thanks to the generosity of the Downend community.

James Hedge was 18 and in his first year of university when he lost his life to diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes caused by lack of insulin in the body.

He had lived with Type 1 diabetes since the age of three but tragically died in January 2016.

In James' memory, members of St Augustine’s Catholic Church in Downend came together to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Throughout 2017 the community held various fundraisers, raising an incredible £30,377.73 for the Type 1 diabetes charity.

Liz and Jason Knight, who suggested JDRF as the parish project in memory of James, said: "When we suggested fundraising for JDRF we thought we might raise £5,000 but the response has been tremendous. We cannot thank the community enough for their support. We have been touched by their kindness and generosity."

The parish held a range of fundraising events including a charity dinner, quiz night and cake sales.  

A very successful ladies pamper night, organised by Clare Davis, raised more than £4,500.  As well as the events, some members of the community took on personal challenges to raise as much money as possible. 

Firstly, Liz Knight ran the London Marathon in April. After months of training, and despite a knee injury, Liz completed her first marathon and raised more than £5,500.   

Then a group of parishioners took on a 40-day challenge, walking 10,000 steps every day for 40 days. Between them, Bernadette and Clara Thomson, Shanta Hurford, Jayne Pitt and Holly Rydon raised more than £700.  

In July, Debbie Kearney abseiled down the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower in the 2012 Olympic Park to collect another £1,200.  

Finally, in August, members of the community cycled over 100 miles around Bristol in one day. The group included James’ dad, Bob, and his brother, Patrick. They were joined by Adam Barber, Oran Kelly-Barber, Matt and Mike Condon, Jonny Davis, Nigel Hodges, Andrew and William Serle and Ade Pearce.  

Despite several punctures and problems with the route, they completed the challenge in under 12 hours and raised £14,000.  

Everyone's efforts were rewarded  when Ally Colton from the South West branch of JDRF came to visit the St Augustine’s parish on January 7.

Ally thanked everyone for their hard work and presented an award to James’ family. The award, which is given in special circumstances, was given in recognition of the bravery they have shown.

In her presentation speech, Ally said: "Although I was never privileged enough to meet James, I know he must have been a truly inspiring young man that so many people wanted to show their love and support in his memory."

James’ parents, Maeve and Bob, said: "We'd like to thank all those involved for their generosity and their hard work in organising and supporting the many events as well as those taking on difficult personal challenges for sponsorship. It means a huge amount to the whole family."

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