A Preston soldier will be marching from Preston to Catterick and back to raise money for Blesma in memory of his mum.
James Kirby is a serving corporal from Preston with the 2nd battalion, the duke of Lancaster regiment.
His mum, Denise Kirby, tragically passed away on Friday 12th March aged 59 due to COVID-19.
James had a very tough journey to reach her in time to say goodbye after hearing that she did not have long to live:
“I received news from the hospital whilst in my posting at ITC Catterick training recruits as a section commander. My mum had hours to live and I made the journey to the hospital praying I made it to be there with her and to say goodbye.
“I will never forget the feeling of hope and determination. My mum fought for 48 hours on her death bed and was the bravest, most beautiful and most courageous woman I have met or known.”
The Preston solider pays tribute to his mum and explains the hardships that she went through in her life:
“She was well known and liked in Preston and other than the last few years where she was in a care home in Southport, she spent most of her life in Preston, around Larches, Callon and Avenham.
“She was a great woman and experienced many hardships and physical issues in her life. She was diagnosed with diabetes found in a coma at the age of 12 and lived with it throughout her life resulting in her having both legs amputated on separate occasions and suffering a stroke due to the effects of diabetes within the last 10 years.
“She loved music and she adored my two younger brothers and my two young children. She had a close bond with her dad jimmy.”
On 30th April, James will be marching for 48 hours in full uniform to mark the two days that his mum fought to stay alive:
“I will be doing a TAB (march) from the Preston flag market at the war memorial to ITC Catterick and back in full CEMO (Marching order) wearing my duke of Lancaster’s headdress in honour of my mum.
“It takes 24 hours to get there by foot and my mum fought for 2 days so I will be marching for two days, one day to get there and one day to get back to represent the fight she made in those two days and also to recreate the mental resilience I needed to get to say goodbye to my mum.”
He has chosen to raise money for a charity which supports limbless veterans in the UK for the duration of their lives:
“I’ve chosen BLESMA because I’m a serving soldier and it supports serving and ex-soldiers who have suffered from the loss of limbs and eyes etc and supports them with the help they may need.
“With my mum having had her legs amputated and needing assistance like mobility and nursing, it seems the right charity to smash the miles out for also the help they do for servicemen and veterans and their families is amazing.”
You can donate here to help James raise as much money as possible for Blesma in memory of his mum.