Home > News > Josh and Susan’s 40 miles in memory of Craig

A Northumberland youngster took on a very special challenge earlier this month, in memory of a much-loved family member

Josh Walton, 11 from Widdrington near Morpeth, teamed up with Grandma Susan to ride 40 miles on their mountain bikes, all in one day, to raise funds for Newcastle-based St Oswald’s Hospice . The inspiration behind their challenge was a very special man called Craig Strachan, who died in April 2019. Craig would have celebrated his 40th birthday on 9th July, and Josh, who is Craig’s second cousin, along with his Grandma Susan, Craig’s Auntie, decided to mark the day in a unique way.

Susan, 66, said:

“Craig was admitted to St Oswald’s Inpatient Unit as symptoms of his bowel cancer worsened. Although he was only there for a couple of weeks, the care he received was marvellous. He told us he wanted us to raise money and support the hospice on his behalf, and at his funeral, we had a collection for St Oswald’s. Losing Craig was devastating for our family, he was my sisters miracle baby and so loved by everyone. He just a genuinely lovely lad.

“After Craig died, we wanted to do something in memory of him, but also to show our gratitude to the hospice. Craig loved his bikes and his passion was off-roading in his Land Rover. I do some cycling myself, so I decided to do a 40 mile charity bike ride on what would have been Craig’s 40th birthday, Thursday 9th July.”

Susan decided to ride Craig’s own off road bike as a further tribute to him. But there was just one thing missing… a team mate! Luckily for Susan, she has a very eager volunteer, as she explains:

“I knew just the person to join me on my bike ride – my Grandson Josh. Josh has ADHD and has already been fundraising for cancer charities by growing his hair, to support his mum who has had Thyroid cancer. Josh adored Craig and was so upset when he died. Josh is only 11 and a very sensitive little boy and has admired the way Craig always smiled, no matter what pain he was going though. We thought that cycling together on Craig’s birthday would be a wonderful way to honour his memory and support a charity close to his heart.
“When I put the idea to him, Josh was really excited. I warned him that it would be a long way and a tough ride, but he wanted to do it for Craig. On the morning of the ride, he sent me a text which said “I’m ready for this Grandma!” and I knew then that he was determined to do it! We didn’t really plan a route, we just wanted to go out and have fun- just as Craig would have done!”

On the big day, Susan and Josh set off from Josh’s home in Widdrington at 11am. Josh was well prepared with new tyres for his bike and a padded gel seat, gifted to him by his Grandad’s friend Gerry and Susan was proudly riding Craig’s bike. To spur them on, the intrepid cyclists had photos of Craig attached to their handlebars, along with details of their challenge.

The pair travelled through Widdrington Village to Druridge Park, even collecting donations along the way, from passers-by impressed by their challenge.  They stopped in the park to eat protein bars and have a drink, before continuing. Their next stop was Amble, where Josh stopped to salute the war memorial, followed by  Hauxley, Lyneburn and Cresswell Alpaca farm, ending up back at Josh’s house to finish their challenge.

Susan continued:

“We were riding all day, eventually getting home at about 6pm. Josh had a bruised bottom and tan lines, but was absolutely buzzing to have completed the 40 miles. At mile 25, I asked Josh if he had had enough and said he could head home and I would ride the final miles. He tapped the photo of Craig on the front of his bike and said “It says 40 miles on here and 40 miles is what I’m doing.”

“We had such a wonderful day together, we never stopped laughing and chatting and we spoke to lots of lovely people who wanted to hear about what we were doing. We spent the last few miles doing some proper off-roading getting covered in mud – it was so much fun!

“I am so proud of Josh and it was very special to have been able to do something together to remember Craig. I just know he would have loved it. Our local community has been very supportive, especially Mark from Widdrington Pharmacy who took a sponsor form and raised £70 from Widdrington Surgery. Natalie and Steve from Grange Garage in Widdrington have always been a huge support in whatever we do. So far, we’ve raised £550 in donations, which we will be proud to give to the hospice in memory of Craig.”

Susan and Josh met us in one of our hospice gardens for a socially distanced giant cheque presentation and it was lovely to meet them. On behalf of everyone at St Oswald’s, we want to say a massive well done and thank you to Josh and Susan for taking on their 40 mile challenge to raise funds. Their fundraising efforts are hugely appreciated and the money they have raised will make a real difference to the families that we care for.