Community raise funds for young dad’s headstone

left to right, Callum Hopps, Shirley Smith of If U Care Share Foundation, Harrison Hopps aged 5 years, Shannon Hopps and Gary Walton from East Rainton FC at the grave of Christopher Hopps. Family, friends and members of the community to pay for the gravestone.
left to right, Callum Hopps, Shirley Smith of If U Care Share Foundation, Harrison Hopps aged 5 years, Shannon Hopps and Gary Walton from East Rainton FC at the grave of Christopher Hopps. Family, friends and members of the community to pay for the gravestone.
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A COMMUNITY helped put a headstone up in time for the first anniversary of a Wearside man’s death.

Michelle and Colin Hopps were left devastated when their eldest son Christopher, 26, took his own life without any warning on August 12 last year.

The East Rainton couple were left struggling to come to terms with their grief and being unable to find the money to pay for a headstone.

However, thanks to the generosity of the community who held fund-raising events, the stone has now been put in place at the dad-of-one’s grave in Hetton Cemetery.

Among the events held to raise money for the £1,200 stone were a charity football match at West Rainton ground, a fun afternoon in The Copt Hill pub, a sponsored bike ride and a car boot sale.

Michelle, 46, said: “I wanted the headstone up in time for the memorial and we are so pleased it is in place.

“We just want to thank everyone who helped to raise the money.”

The family have also donated money to If U Care Share Foundation, a Chester-le-Street charity set up to help those affected by suicide and which has supported the Hopps family.

Christopher, who lived in a flat at The Waterhouse, Hetton, had not shown signs of being depressed and even bought a bicycle on the morning of his death.

Michelle and Colin, 48, who are also parents to Callum, 24, Shannon, 18, and six-year-old Harrison, said they became concerned when they could not get in touch with Christopher and rang the police.

Following a search for the young man, police found he had hanged himself at Rainton Meadows and there was no sign of drugs or alcohol in his system.

Michelle, who is also grandmother to four-year-old Amelia, said: “I want to raise awareness of suicide. Things keep going round and round in my head and I was asking myself if there was anything I could have done or said. I have so many questions that I can’t get the answers to.”