Trio keep memory of tragic pal alive

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Nine year old and his uncles are amongst first to join walk for hospital patients

Andrew Binks and his childhood friends Dennis and Richard Eales were known as the ‘three amigos’ because they were so close and spent so much time together.

Light the Night sponsored Walk through Ecclesall Woods in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Care Charity

Light the Night sponsored Walk through Ecclesall Woods in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Care Charity

But the pals’ tight-knit group was shattered forever when Andrew, from High Green, lost his battle against cancer two years ago aged just 30.

Now Dennis and Richard’s nephew Ben Jones are among the first people to sign up for a torchlit walk through Sheffield’s Ecclesall Woods in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.

The youngster, also from High Green, was inspired by the hospital’s care for Andrew, and will be among hundreds of other fundraisers on the third annual Light the Night walk in October.

“I know my uncle Dennis and uncle Richard miss Andrew so much and I wanted to do something in his memory and support the hospital that looked after him,” said Ben.

“Andrew was just so much fun - he always had great jokes and made me laugh.”

Andrew - nicknamed ‘Binxy’ - was treated for oesophageal cancer and a secondary brain tumour at Weston Park, but died in July 2012.

Dennis, 33, who works in the accounts department at law firm Irwin Mitchell, is also taking part in Light the Night alongside Ben and members of Andrew’s family.

He said: “Binxy was a top lad and my best mate. He had a huge heart and was just an amazing person.

“Me and my brother went to visit him a lot in Weston Park Hospital during his treatment and I was really impressed with the care and kindness the staff showed – they were fantastic.”

Dennis added: “Ben and I did the walk two years ago, just after Binxy had died, and I was really proud of Ben when he asked if we could do it again.

“Last time Ben got quite tired and wanted a carry but now that he is a brown belt in karate and a lot fitter than me - so he might need to give me a carry!”

Ben’s mum and Dennis’ sister, Cheryl Jones, said she has been ‘overwhelmed’ with how many people have got behind Ben’s fundraising.

She said: “It’s lovely to see how all his friends, teachers and my colleagues and friends have supported him and how important the cause is to them.

“I’m just so proud of him for wanting to do something to help others and for raising over £150 so far!”

Sarah Cross, a fundraiser for the good cause, said: “Ben is such a thoughtful, caring young boy and we are delighted that he has chosen to support the work of the hospital.”

Ben, Dennis and their group are planning to wear Sheffield United shirts - even though Dennis is a life-long Owls fan.

Dennis said: “Andrew was a Sheffield United fan but my brother and I have always been Sheffield Wednesday fans.

“As a tribute to Binxy we wore Sheffield United shirts to his funeral and to the first Light the Night walk.

“We were lucky last year as it was a bit cold so I had to put my coat on over the shirt! I would wear a United shirt again for Binxy though - and hope for another chilly day!”

* Visit Ben’s Light the Night page to sponsor.

FACTFILE: Woodland stroll with a neon theme

The Light the Night walk follows a 4.5km route through Ecclesall Woods - with live entertainment and surprises promised along the way.

The theme for this year’s walk is ‘90s neon’, and organisers are encouraging participants to capture the retro look with fancy dress and glow in the dark accessories.

This year, everyone who raises £35 or more before the night of the walk on October 4 will receive a limited edition glow-in-the-dark T-shirt as a thank you for their efforts.

Last year more than 600 people strode out on the walk, collecting over £40,000 in donations.

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity needs to raise £2 million in 2014 to continue its work.

The event starts at 6pm from the Woodland Discovery Centre on Abbey Lane.

Discounted entry fees are available exclusively online until the end of August.

For more details about the walk or to register visit Light the Night or call 0114 226 5370.