FAMILY and friends of hero South Yorkshire soldier Matthew Thornton gathered at his grave before setting out on a mammoth walk to raise charity cash.
Private Thornton, from Darton, Barnsley, was killed in Afghanistan last November, and in the 28-year-old’s memory his relatives have pledged to raise £100,000 for the Help for Heroes appeal, which helps wounded soldiers.
The walk began at Darton Parish Church with a graveside address by Matthew’s father Mick Thornton, before he led his other son Nathan and other supporters of the charity to the start of the 72-mile, four-day, walk around Barnsley’s district boundary.
Launching the walk, Mr Thornton said: “I’ve been waiting in anticipation of the start of this day and it was hard to get to sleep last night.
“Now it’s down to business and I’m looking forward to speaking to many of those who have joined us over the coming day and raising much needed funds for Help For Heroes.”
Among those taking part in the walk are Matthew’s colleagues from the Territorial Army’s Fourth Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, including their commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Crowley.
During their trek the group hopes to stop off at Penistone Show to rattle some collection boxes today and plan to complete the walk back in Darton on Sunday afternoon.
Mr Thornton said he organised the walk because ‘Matthew always liked a challenge’. Supporters can also donate to the family’s collection by visiting www.justgiving.com/michael-thornton1.