SAFC stars kick off charity trek

Football stars stood shoulder to shoulder with charity walkers who are making a 178-mile trek across Britain in aid of stillborn babies.

Paul Taft and Phil Barker are hiking their way from Sunderland to Staffordshire, taking in 30 miles a day, to raise funds for 4Louis.

Black Car stars Jordan Henderson and David Meyler were on hand to start the men on their feat, thanks to Niall Quinn, who was touched by the charity's efforts.

4louis was set up by Kirsty McGurrell, of Houghton, and her family after the 21-year-old's son Louis died before birth in December last year.

Despite the heartbreak of her loss, Kirsty decided to help other families through the trauma of losing a baby through stillbirth.

She and mum Tracy make keepsake boxes which include items such as a clay impression kit, teddies and a guardian angel.

The McGurrells hope to have boxes in place in every hospital in the region so that families can take home a permanent reminder of their stillborn baby.

Kirsty said: "I think what Paul and Phil is doing is fantastic. Everyone has been so supportive, even hotels are giving them free rooms along the way.

"Having the footballers at the start to help them on their way is brilliant. Dad wrote a letter to Niall Quinn telling him about the charity and he wrote a lovely letter back.

"He asked Jordan and David to come down and they couldn't have been any nicer. They were really interested in what we are doing and took copies of our DVDs."

To do their bit for the charity, Phil and Paul set off from Sunderland Royal Hospital and will be walking to a memorial garden for stillborn babies in Staffordshire.

Paul, 39, who works with Kirsty's dad Bob, said: "Seeing the hurt and pain the family were going through, me and my best friend decided between us that we would do something for them and others who suffer the same tremendous heartache."

John Appleby, 41, of Durham, joined the walkers on the first leg of their trek to Darlington.

To learn more about the charity log onto www.4louis.webs.com