Well done and a big thank you to six-year-old Harry, who has raised more than £14,500 by hiking 45 miles to support our care for his baby brother Reuben.
Harry Byrne captured the hearts of his Wiltshire community and beyond when he took on a ‘Hospice to Hospice’ hiking challenge last month to raise money for Julia’s House and also Naomi House & Jacksplace children’s hospices in Hampshire.
The youngster, from Larkhill on Salisbury Plain, covered the 45 mile distance between the two hospices that care for his little brother Reuben over just three days by walking loops in his local area.
“Because of Covid-19 restrictions we had to do the challenge close to our home in Larkhill, which isn’t a bad thing because it’s a beautiful part of the world,” says Dad Sean, who joined Harry for the full walk. “We took in the local attractions of Woodhenge and Stonehenge on the way.”
Mum Sophie and one-year-old Reuben also met the pair at different stages along the route to cheer them on.
Since news of Harry’s challenge was shared across local and national media, donations and support have been pouring in to his Just Giving page from as far as Scotland. Now, the St Michael’s C of E Primary School pupil’s total fundraising amount stands at more than £14,500, including Gift Aid contributions.
“We were blown away with the response, and just so grateful to all of our friends and the people we’ve never met, who have heard about Harry’s challenge and shown their support,” says Sean.
“We’re immensely proud of Harry – not just the physical exertion of doing the challenge – but also the noble cause behind it,” he says. “The hospices that care for Reuben rely on public funding to provide the vital and essential support that they give to families like ours. And it’s not something that they’ve stopped doing during lockdown – their nurses and carers are continuing to support us throughout and keep Reuben safe and well at home.”
Much to Harry’s delight, they were treated to snow on the final day of their challenge on January 24, and they celebrated by building a snowman at the finish line.
“The snow was a big distraction because Harry wanted to keep stopping to have a snowball fight,” says Sean. “But it did make it special, and it was a really wonderful experience for us to look back on and remember.”
Nicky Clack, our fundraising administrator, says, “We’re so impressed that Harry managed to complete his challenge in just three days and still have the energy to build a snowman at the end!
"We’d like to say a huge thank you to hero Harry – his miles will help us to continue caring for families and children with life-limited conditions, like Reuben, in the Wiltshire community.”
Harry’s little brother Reuben was born with a condition that causes brain damage – so rare that it doesn’t have a name yet and there are only 17 cases worldwide.
Because of his condition, Reuben can suffer up to ten apnoeic seizures a day where he stops breathing. When this happens, Harry will often stroke Reuben’s head and hold up the oxygen to help his little brother when he comes out of the seizure.
The family sadly lost Harry’s older sister Olivia eight years ago to the same condition. She was just eight months old when she died, and because doctors are still learning about the condition, the family were told that ‘lightning wouldn’t strike twice’.
If you would like to support Harry’s challenge, visit his Virgin Money Giving page at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SophieByrne3
And if you’re inspired by Harry’s challenge and would like to support Julia’s House and families like Harry and Reuben’s, why not sign up for our virtual Seven Wonders of the World fitness challenge.