Chris Gibbs’ story – raising funds on an epic trip in memory of his son
We caught up with fundraiser Chris Gibbs on his epic challenge to raise funds for Royal Stoke and Birmingham Children’s Hospital in memory of his son Thiago
You've completed quite a trek, Chris - where did you start and where did you finish?
I started my 350 mile trip (I planned it being 282 miles initially but my geography skills are lacking a little!) from the Vic pub in Eastbourne on 19 September, and I finished on 16 October at Royal Stoke University Hospital
What motivated you to take on this fundraising journey?
My wife Angelica and I lost our beautiful little boy, Thiago, in November last year. I just wanted to do something this year that was both a legacy to our little man, and something really meaningful to the two hospitals that looked after him in his tragically short lifetime - Royal Stoke and Birmingham Children's Hospital
How did you adapt your fundraising to the 'new normal', and were there any challenges because of this?
I planned my fundraiser for the Summer months, and when the lockdown was announced in March, it soon became apparent that I needed to rethink. I managed to shift the event to 15 weeks later and set about letting people know!
I focussed my attention on generating as much media coverage as possible, sharing my fundraiser every day through a blog. This has meant that I've been able to keep donors updated with my progress along the way.
The blog: www.inthenameofthiago.co.uk has certainly helped me to gain traction in the long months leading up to September, and I plan to continue writing.
What was something that surprised you about the experience?
I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer generosity of people that I bumped into along the way - from the young lovers on a canalside bench, the random chap who was with his son that I spoke to at a micro-brewery in Wimbledon, a barbershop quartet in a park in Warwick and the incredible people who live their lives on the Grand Union Canal. Every day brought an experience that made me smile, which was very important for me as I was away from my wife and daughter for so long.
What kind of difference will the money raised make to the charities you're supporting?
This is an area that gives me a lot of pride. I've kept in touch with a lovely neonatologist from Royal Stoke called Sim, who has been following my journey ever since Thiago came into his life as a baby. While I've been walking, he's seen the fundraising amount go up and up and he asked me whether we would be happy for the hospital to use the money I've raised to contribute towards a heart scanner. Naturally, I said yes!
Right now, I'm having a bit of a breather but plenty of people are asking me what I plan to do next. Let's just say that I have some thinking to do in the coming weeks!
Check out Chris’ page at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ChrisGibbs9