By Jess Grieveson-Smith
A heart-broken family’s pooch is walking 177 miles in memory of her young owner who died of cancer.
Harry Chadwick, from Spratton, Northamptonshire, died aged just 17 after battling what was original diagnosed as testicular cancer for four years.
Now fundraising for a charity set up in his son’s name, dad David Chadwick, 53, a company director, will be walking Nelly, the Airdale Terrier, across 177 miles which equates to a height greater than that of Mount Everest.
The terrier will be completing the walk in six days – half the recommended time for Offa’s Dyke, starting in Sedbury and ending in Prestatyn – stopping at B&B’s along the way.
Mum, Jessica Pilkington, a former journalist, 47, said: “Harry fought cancer for four years, with the diagnosis constantly switching between terminal, to not.
“It was originally diagnosed as testicular, but then changed to cancer of the unknown primary which made it so hard to treat.
“It was heartbreaking, and Harry was such a special person.
“He absolutely adored both Nelly and Freddie and was so loving and gentle.
“We got two dogs for him and his sister, both Nelly and Freddie, and they named them, and spent all his time walking them.
“Despite his diagnosis of autism, it never held him back from loving life, loving people and having ambition.
“Since losing him, we’re determined that we won’t let cancer define Harry.
“When Harry was 2 and a half, I gave up my job and travelled around the world.
“Harry was even the first child from the Western World to climb Machu Picchu.
“I didn’t have any idea of Harry’s disabilities until we returned to the UK when he was four.
“But when we got back to the UK, and got the diagnosis, we noticed Harry would need a schedule due to his autism, and there were things that made him quirky.
“He had a memory like an elephant, and friends who I hadn’t seen in years, he would remember the relationships and the birthdays, even when I couldn’t.
“We live in a small village and he was always walking with the dogs, he absolutely loved it.
“And when I rang him to see where he was, he’d answer and he’d have popped into everyone’s house on the way back, just to chat.
“He absolutely loved people and he’d still walk the dogs even when he was poorly.
Harry’s Fund aims to help others like Harry as his parents believe there is a gap in provision for those with special educational needs after leaving secondary school.
David added: “If he’d lived, Harry would have been supported by charities like Teamwork Trust as they prepared him for the next stage of life after school.
“I’d like Harry’s legacy to be what an all round beautiful person he was, and how he would always help others.”
David has so far raised £2,000 and more information can be found here; https://www.facebook.com/HarryChadwickFund