Preston military corporal who's mum had legs removed raises money for limbless veterans charity after she loses battle with Covid-19

After losing his mum to Covid-19 just four days ago, a military corporal from Preston is planning to march from the Flag Market to ITC Catterick and back in full uniform, in a bid to raise money for a limbless veterans charity.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 2:08 pm

"She was the bravest and most courageous woman I have ever met."

Those were the words of James Kirby talking about his mum who he suddenly lost to Covid-19 just four days ago, on March 12.

The military corporal, from Preston, told the Post that his mum had suffered a life of physical difficulties and immobility that led to her legs being amputated and unable to use her arms.

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James beside mum Denise, who had her legs removed due to her diabetes

And it was during his posting at ITC Catterick, where he trains recruits as a section commander, that he got the call from the hospital telling him the devastating news that his mum had "just hours left to live."

Following her recent death, he is now planning to march in full uniform from Preston's flag market to his base at ITC Catterick and back, in a feat that will take him 48 hours, to raise money for a limbless veterans charity.

James, 33, said: "I will be doing a march in full marching order and wearing my Duke of Lancaster headdress in honour of my mum. It will take 24 hours to get there on foot, so I will do a march there and march back because she fought hard for two days in the hospital before she died.

"The march will represent the fight she made in those 48 hours on her death bed and it will recreate the mental resilience that I needed to get to say goodbye to my mum.

The military corporal will march more than 140 miles to raise money for a limbless veterans charity

"She was the bravest, most beautiful and courageous woman I have ever met or known."

Denise Kirby, 59, lost her battle on March 12 after being diagnosed with Covid-19 and spending two days in Southport and Formby Hospital.

Her lifetime of suffering from diabetes, immobility and a stroke is what inspired son James to raise money for Blesma, the limbless veteran's charity - a cause he says is "close to his heart."

And on his ambitious march, that will see him tread more than 140 miles in just two days, the serving corporal will also carry 59 kilos of weight on his back to represent the age of his mum when she passed.

James with fellow Duke of Lancaster soldiers

James added: "I received the news from the hospital that my mum had just hours to live. On the journey to the hospital, I was praying I would make it in time to be there with her and say goodbye - I will never forget the feeling of hope and determination.

"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 who had experienced many hardships and physical issues in her life. After being diagnosed with diabetes and living with it throughout her life, she had both legs amputated on separate occasions, suffered a stroke and lost mobility of her hands.

"I have chosen the Blesma charity because it supports serving and ex-soldiers who have suffered from loss of limbs and eyes and gives them the help and support they may need.

"With my mum having had her legs amputated and needing assistance with her mobility, it seems the right charity to smash the miles out for and contribute to the amazing help they give servicemen and veterans and their families.

"I am over the moon with the support so far from family, friends and fellow serving soldiers and veterans. Anything people can give would be massively appreciated, to help the charity that meant a lot to my mum, me and also my past serving and currently serving comrades."

Despite not yet having planned his mum's funeral, James was eager to use her passing to raise money for a cause close to him through his work in the military, so far raising almost £1,800 through his Just Giving page.

He plans to begin his march from Preston's war memorial at the Flag Market on April 30 and hopes to be joined through different stages of the journey by a team from the Queen's Lancashire Veterans, infantry officers, members of the under-11's team at Ribbleton FC and corporal sergeants on his final leg into Catterick.

He will be also supported by his two younger brothers Danny, 33 and Darren, 28.

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