Although the boys never met, their parents – friends for some 20 years – decided last year to mark what would have been each of their 21st birthdays by pledging to raise £21,000 for charity under the initiative Challenje21.
That far exceeded their expectations with more than £27,000 donated to Guildford-based Disability Challengers, chosen as Joe had been a regular participant in their play schemes.
Having achieved such success in 2011, Marianne and Anthony Watts and Nick and Gay Skinner decided to set a new goal for Challenje2012 – a 26-mile marathon walk through the Surrey Hills.
“Last year there was such a strong camaraderie amongst all those taking part, most of whom knew either Harry or Joe, and it wasn’t very long afterwards that we were asked to organise another walk for this year,” said Marianne.
“Instantly we had more than 50 wanting to take part and this year it was great to include a number of staff and parents from Disability Challengers.”
One of those was the charity’s chief executive, Laura Sercombe.
Setting off bright and early from the White Horse in Hascombe, which hosted both the event’s start and finish, the walkers, one of whom travelled from as far as Essex to take part, took a route through Shamley Green, Pitch Hill, Peaslake, Shere, Newlands Corner, Shalford Park, Farncombe and Winkworth Arboretum, amazingly all in less than 10 hours.
“I’m so pleased to have completed Challenje2012 – it was very motivating to have a send-off from a parent whose child is supported by Disability Challengers,” said one of the walkers, Catherine Fisher from local law firm Barlow Robbins.
“It made it easier to keep going up the hills, knowing that the money we were raising was going to such a great cause. It was a brilliantly organised event, and even the weather was in our favour.”
So far, Challenje2012 has raised more than £7,000 with donations still coming in.
Laura Sercombe said: “This was, without doubt, one of the best days of this year so far for me as it offered us all an amazing opportunity to raise money for our vital youth and young adults projects, and saw a very special group of supporters come together in memory of Harry and Joe.
“The event was incredibly well organised and I already can’t wait for next year.”