Fuelled by flapjacks and brownies, eight-year-old Harry Byrne has completed his Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge to fulfil the last promise he made to his little brother Reuben.
The kind-hearted youngster from Larkhill, Wilts, said he was “going to climb a mountain for Reuben,” moments after his two-year-old brother died before Christmas last year.
Harry scaled more than 7,000 ft to complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge last month. His challenge has so far raised more than £2,700 for Julia’s House children’s hospice and Naomi House & Jacksplace, plus four other charities who have been there when his family needed them most.
Harry led the gruelling three-day climb with his dad Sean close behind him, and mum Sophie joining for two of the days with his one-year-old brother Felix in a carrier.
The family was also joined by Harry’s Nanny, Helen Bishop, and her partner Glenn Williams, with Harry’s friend Lucy and her family joining for part of the challenge as well.
Mum Sophie said, “We all walk so much, we thought we’d be fine, but it was incredibly steep and tough, especially in the last 20 minutes before we reached the peaks. We even had some hail on the second day. We had to grit our teeth to get to the top. Thankfully, we were fuelled each day by Nanny’s homemade bakes.”
“When we finally reached the end of day three, Harry was so happy that he’d completed the challenge and had fulfilled his last promise to Reuben. He was running around, just overjoyed,” said Sophie. “It was harder than we could ever have imagined, but we knew it was nothing compared to what Reuben went through in his short life.”
After a year of fundraising across Wiltshire and beyond, including a Race Around the Moon distance challenge and a Hospice to Hospice Hike, the St Michael’s Primary School pupil has now raised an incredible £41,000 in total for charity.
“We can’t believe how much he’s raised really, and we’re so thankful to everyone who has donated to support the charities,” said Sophie. “In the future, I think doing these challenges will really help Harry because he can look back and talk about these experiences and the memories he’s made. He’s done it all for Reuben and to help his legacy live on.”
Harry and his family always knew that life would be short for Reuben, who was born with an extremely rare and complex condition that causes brain deterioration and seizures.
Despite there being only 20 recorded cases worldwide, it is the same condition that the boys’ older sister Olivia died from nine years ago at the age of eight months.
Sadly, Reuben passed away just five days before Christmas, at the age of 27 months.
“Harry wasn't just Reuben's brother, he was also a fantastic young carer,” said Sophie. “When Reuben had a seizure, he would hold his oxygen and tell him, ‘it’s okay Reu Reu.’ It all came so naturally to him and Reuben was always so happy in the arms of his big brother.”
She said, “I can remember walking in the woods with Harry one day and he told me, ‘I want to take Reuben’s condition from him and have it instead, so he can have a happy life.’ He takes your breath away with his kindness and we’re so incredibly proud of him.”
Julia’s House Sibling Worker Tracey Griffin, who will continue to be there just for Harry to support him in the coming years, said, “Harry’s an inspirational young boy with such a generous-hearted spirit. He’s adventurous and courageous and so full of compassion for others. I’m beyond pleased for Harry that he completed his mountain challenge in memory of his beautiful brother, Reuben. On behalf of everyone at Julia’s House, I can’t thank Harry and his family enough for their phenomenal fundraising efforts, and supporting our care for seriously ill children and families like theirs.”
Pete Abrahams, Head of Supporter Services & Events, said, “Once again, eight-year-old Harry has blown us away with his energy, determination and courage. His efforts continue to raise vital support for the hospices who helped provide care for his brother, Rueben. Every fundraising challenge Harry has taken on has been a huge success and this one is no different. On behalf of everyone at Naomi House & Jacksplace, thank you for your incredible support Harry, you’re an inspiration to all of us.”
By taking on the three peaks of Pen-y-ghent (2,227 ft), Whernside (2415 ft) and Ingleborough (2,372ft) over three days from 11 April, Harry and his family hope to raise £5,000 for the charities that have supported them and continue to do so: Julia’s House children’s hospice, Naomi House & Jacksplace, Ronald McDonald’s House, Saffa, Sandcastle Trust and Royal Artillery Charitable Fund.
Support Harry and families of life-limited children, by making a donation at their JustGiving page.