#TeamJack teens smash charity target for friend

Sam and Billy take on their January challenge in memory of friend Jack
Sam and Billy take on their January challenge in memory of friend Jack

There’s frost on the ground, and the temperature has plummeted to well below zero, but Sam Fishwick and Billy Parkin aren’t put off.

Instead they pull on their trainers and head out the door - just as they have done every day for the past month.

Sam and Billy take on their January challenge in memory of friend Jack - on the last day of the challenge with many friends from their school

Sam and Billy take on their January challenge in memory of friend Jack - on the last day of the challenge with many friends from their school

The pair have been running every day since January 1, braving the elements, and battling on through illness and injury, all in tribute to their dear friend, Jack Faulkner.

Jack was in Y10 at King Ecgbert’s school when he was diagnosed with cancer last year, shortly after Easter. He died in October, leaving his family and friends reeling. It was their combined grief, and a desire to honour their friend, that led to Sam, aged 16, and Billy, aged 15, committing to raise money in his name.

“On Christmas Day, Sam was feeling really sad about Jack, and thinking of his family spending their first Christmas without him. It was then that he and Billy decided they would run every single day throughout January, for Jack," explains Sam's mum, Lisa Bradshaw.

“It was their way of doing something for their friend, as well as raising money for CLIC Sargent, the charity that helped Jack, his family and friends during a really difficult time – and that still supports Jack’s sister and brother.”

Sam and Billy take on their January challenge in memory of friend Jack - pictured with Jack's dad, Dan

Sam and Billy take on their January challenge in memory of friend Jack - pictured with Jack's dad, Dan

The duo, who both went to school with Jack, and shared a room with him on a ski trip last February – shortly before he became ill - initially set themselves a fundraising target of £250.

“What they were doing really captured the community's imagination,” says Lisa.

“They quickly smashed that target and the money kept coming in. Then our local Morrisons branch heard what they were doing, and said – since CLIC Sargent is their chosen charity of the year – they would match fund anything the boys raised up to £1,000. As of February 1, the boys total hit £2,600.”

And Lisa says the most inspiring thing, for her, has been watching the teenagers’ dedication.

“They started the month so strong, and even when people’s New Year resolutions were starting to lag, they never faltered. They were out there running every single day, in the freezing temperatures, and the snow. They were out running when they were ill, and stuffed up with colds, and towards the end, were both running on injuries.

“I don't know exactly how far they ran, some days were longer runs, days they were struggling were shorter runs, but they never did less than 2km a day.

“Sam would head out in the snow at 9pm after a long day, and right at the end, due to a leg injury, Billy was finding it really tough, but he would head to the gym and put in the miles on a treadmill.

“Not one single day did either of them say ‘I can’t really be bothered today.’ They just did it.”

And the school, and community of Dore, got behind both boys, with many people joining them on their runs on different days, in a bid to keep them going.

“I put posts on Facebook regularly, trying to shimmy them along, and people started asking if they could join them for one of their runs. 

“Jack's dad, Dan, went out with them a few times, and I know it meant to so much to him that they were doing this for Jack.”

Perhaps the most touching tribute of all came on the last day of the challenge when an enormous group of Jack’s former classmates came together with Jack’s family, to join the boys for their very last run.

“It meant so much to them when they showed up at the school field on that last day to find 30 kids waiting. They were both delighted.”

Jack’s dad, Dan – who along with Jack’s mum Sally, sister Emily, and many of Jack’s family and friends has raised nearly £45k already for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and CLIC Sargent – said: “The response we’ve had from Jack’s friends has been absolutely overwhelming. We're so proud of Sam and Billy and the way they’ve stuck at this challenge.”