Hardy walkers hope to reach £30,000 target for Wearside charity

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A group of dedicated walkers are hoping to reach their £30,000 target for a Sunderland charity.

Paul Taft, Phil Barker and Mark Deleon spent ten days on a gruelling 175-mile walk from Huddersfield to Sunderland to raise money for stillbirth charity4Louis.

Founder of 4Louis Kirsty McGurrell with her memory boxes.

Founder of 4Louis Kirsty McGurrell with her memory boxes.

Walk4Louis is now in its seventh year and the lads are hoping to smash through the £30,000 target by the time all their fundraising is in.

Sunderland mum, Kirsty McGurrell, formed 4Louis after her son was stillborn in 2009 and the charity has proved a massive success.

The Washington-based charity creates keepsake boxes so that people who have lost a child can capture as many memories as possible.

The idea has won the hearts of families across the UK. The boxes are supplied to 213 hospitals across the country, including Sunderland and South Tyneside, and to the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Charity walkers raise funds for 4Louis charity. From left Paul Taft, Phil Barker and Mark Deleon.

Charity walkers raise funds for 4Louis charity. From left Paul Taft, Phil Barker and Mark Deleon.

They are now in demand even further afield and 4Louis has been asked to supply British Armed Forces camps, including ones in Germany, Cyprus and Northern Ireland.

With such demand for the boxes, 4Louis supplies between 200 and 300 boxes a week, there is continuous fund-raising going on.

Paul, 45, who lives in Cramlington and is a friend of Kirsty's family, along with his pals, Phil and Mark, who live in the Midlands, decided the annual walk would be a great way to raise funds.

The group stops off at hospitals on the way to meet with staff in baby units to see for themselves the positive impact the boxes have.

Phil, 39, said: "We have had a couple of families who have lost babies who have joined us for parts of the walks and they have told us how much the boxes have helped them and that keeps you going."

The trio reached Lumley Castle on Friday evening and set off from there on Saturday morning for the last leg of the journey to Sunderland Royal Hospital to meet with staff there.

Mark, 42, said they get a huge amount of support from people on the way and all the hotels they stay in on the way put them up free of charge.

Paul said: "This year we had really great weather for the first few days and then for two days it rained all day, so we got soaked."

Each 4Louis memory box contains treasured items including a card, so the family can write a poem or letter to baby; a curl box for a lock of the baby’s hair, a balloon, and a postcard.

It also includes a clay cast to capture an impression of baby’s hands and feet; an inkless wipe to capture imprints of baby’s hands and feet; a glass angel in a box; a candle; an acknowledgement of life certificate; plantable paper with forget-me-not seeds; and a Guess How Much I Love You box, along with a teddy bear.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the Walk4Louis can visit www.justgiving.com/walk4louism.