Sunderland neighbour sets out on pier to pier run in memory of his friend's mum lost just days before his own mother

He is truly our hero – those of the words of a Sunderland man whose neighbour set out to honour the memory of mum as the runner comes to terms with the loss of his own mother.

Paul Harvey offered to run from South Shields Pier to Roker Pier after learning of the death of Mary Storey, who also lived in Amalfi Tower in Lakeside Village.

She died aged 83 on Thursday, April 8, in Sunderland Royal Hospital due to sepsis, and while she had faced poor mobility in her later years, she was still fiercely independent and loved spending her time travelling, playing bingo and completing crosswords and reading.

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Paul Harvey, dressed in his green Macmillian fundraiser T-shirt with friend Alan Procter, and Mary Storey's children Alan and Susan Gauci as he prepared to set off from South Shields for Roker.

Her son Alan, 62, who was her carer for the last decade, and her daughter Susan Gauci, 58, have been left devastated, with their loss following on from dad Billy, who died 10 years ago aged 73, and their sister Elaine Donfancesco, who died in 2001 aged 35.

Paul, 52, was then left facing his own grief after his mum Betty, 85, died on Monday, April 12, also leaving daughters Denise Dixon and Pauline Kirtley, and sons Trevor and Keith.

Paul said: “I think my Mam would be so proud of me.”

Alan Storey and mum Mary on a balloon ride adventure.

But he was determined to continue with his feat, setting out from South Shields early on Saturday, April 24, to complete the 7.1 mile run in 1 hour 12 minutes, with funds they have collected in sponsorship to be split between the British Heart Foundation and Macmillian, with more than £500 raised so far.

Alan and Susan, along with friend Alan Procter, helped provide a support crew for him along the way.

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Alan said: “He is truly our hero.

Paul Harvey as he made good progress on the run from South Shields to Roker.

"When he said what he wanted to do, I just thought it was unbelievable, it took me by total surprise, saying he wanted to do something for my Mam.

"Then he still said he wanted to do it after losing his own mam.”

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Mary’s humanist funeral was held at 12.30pm on Monday, April 26, at Sunderland Crematorium, followed by a burial afterwards, while Betty’s service will be held on Wednesday, April 28.

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Alan and Mary Storey as they enjoyed the Tall Ships Races as it was held in Sunderland.

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Paul Harvey as he crossed the finishing line at Roker.
Mary Storey with daughter Susan Gauci
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Betty Harvey with her children Denise Dixon, Trevor, Keith, Pauline Kirtley and Paul.