Preston soldier who completed 154 miles for veterans charity running to win national hero award

Preston soldier James Kirby, who raised thousands of pounds in memory of his mother who died after contracting Covid-19, has reached the final 10 stages of Amplifon Awards selection for the Brave Britons 2021 Coronavirus Hero category.

Corporal James Kirby, who was training recruits at Catterick Barracks, walked from Preston War Memorial to Catterick in North Yorkshire and returned with his full military gear to raise vital funds for the Blesma Limbless Veterans charity.

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Preston-born James reached top ten for coronavirus hero award

The cause, for which he raised £8,100, was close to his heart after his mother lost both of her legs after amputating them and restricting the use of her arms.

And James has now reached the Coronavirus Hero selection stage out of 300 global nominations chosen by the public – an award which is currently held by Sir Captain Tom Moore.

The other categories are Act Of Courage, Active Agers, Against All Odds, Charity Champion, Celebrity Hero, Young Hero and Hero Pet.

Speaking about the feat, James said: “It was a shock and I had no idea I had been hyped up by the public. To even be noticed among 300 people and then reach the top ten is incredible. and I’m so proud of myself and everyone who supported me.

James sobbed at the Preston war memorial after completing his 154 mile journey

“Getting this recognition was not my intention. I did the walk to sort out my head and improve myself mentally as well as to raise funds to give people a better chance in life. Honestly, I’m overwhelmed that people recognize my efforts, it means the world.”

Father-of-two James has already raised £8,100 for Blesma The Limbless Veterans, an armed forces charity which supports limbless veterans in the UK and their families.

Falklands War hero Simon Weston chairs the judging panel and presents the awards, with four finalists to be selected in each category and a winner to be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday 5 October.

James raised money for the veterans charity without members

James added: “The reaction to my walk has been incredible and the amount of money and attention it has garnered has been overwhelming. It has had such an effect and more and more people have heard of it and have wanted to support me.

“People who knew me and knew how hard I was struggling were reaching out to me, as were the people at the charity. All the support I received gave me more determination to complete the walk because we we all know people who are struggling or who don’t believe in themselves.

“I didn’t do this for the praise and I had no interest in being recognized. I just wanted to get back into this nightmarish situation I was in that night in March watching mum die. I knew it was the only way to overcome the hurdle and get closure.

“We raised a lot of money for the charity that would help people like my mother and those who care for them. I am so honored to have been recognized for this award and, as a soldier in service, to be nominated for the same award an ex-serviceman won last year is just amazing.

Amplifon is one of the world’s leading hearing aid specialists operating in 26 countries with 105 stores across the UK.

More information on the upcoming award can be found here.

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