Preston soldier who walked 154 miles for veterans charity in running to win national hero award
A military corporal from Preston who raised thousands of pounds for charity in memory of his mum has reached the top 10 finalists in the Amplifon Brave Britons awards.
Preston soldier James Kirby, who raised thousands of pounds in memory of his mum who died after contracting Covid-19, has reached the final 10 selection stages in the Amplifon Awards for the Brave Britons 2021 Coronavirus Hero category.
Corporal James Kirby, who was training recruits at Catterick Barracks, walked from Preston War Memorial to Catterick in North Yorkshire and back wearing his full army gear to raise vital funds for the Blesma Limbless Veterans charity.
The cause, for which he has raised £8,100, was close to his heart after his mum had lost both her legs after having them amputated and had restricted use of her arms.
And James has now reached the Coronavirus Hero selection stage out of 300 overall nominations chosen by the public - an award that is currently held by Sir Captain Tom Moore.
The other categories are Act Of Courage, Active Agers, Against All Odds, Charity Champion, Celebrity Hero, Young Hero and Hero Pet.
Speaking about the achievement, James said: "It was a shock and I had no idea I had been put forward by the public. To even be noticed out of the 300 people and then reach the top ten is unbelievable and I am so proud of myself and all those who supported me.
"Getting this recognition wasn't my intention. I did the walk to sort my head out and get better mentally as well as raising money to give people a better chance in life. Honestly, I am overwhelmed for people to recognise my efforts, it means the world."
The 48 hours he walked represented the age his mum Denise Kirby, of Moor Nook, was when she died of Covid-19 in March.
Dad-of-two James raised £8,100 so far for Blesma The Limbless Veterans, an armed forces charity supporting limbless veterans in the UK and their families.
Falklands War hero Simon Weston chairs the judging panel and presents the awards, with four finalists to be selected in each category and a winner to be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 5.
James added: "The reaction to my walk was amazing and the amount of money and attention it got was overwhelming. It had such a knock on effect and more and more people heard about it and wanted to support me.
"People who knew me and knew how much I was struggling were reaching out as were people from the charity. All of the support I got just gave me more determination to finish the walk because we all know people who are struggling or don't believe in themselves.
"I didn't do this for praise and I had no interest in recognition. I just wanted to put myself back in that nightmare situation I was in that night in March watching mum die. I knew it was the only way I could get over the hurdle and get some closure.
"We raised a lot of money for the charity which would help people like my mum and those who care for them. I am so honoured to have been recognised for this award, and as a serving soldier to be nominated in the same award that an ex-serviceman won last year is just amazing.
Amplifon is a leading global hearing specialist operating in 26 countries with 105 stores across the UK.
More information about the upcoming award can be found here.
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