A swimming teacher from Penrhyncoch has walked up and down Aberystwyth promenade for nine hours as part of his training for a 45-mile walk tomorrow (Saturday, 2 September) in memory of his 11 year-old pupil, Joseph Kenobi.
Martienus Thomas set himself a target to raise £2,011 - Joseph was born in 2011 - for LATCH, a children’s cancer charity that has helped the Kenobi family enormously. To raise this amount, he will take part in the Across Wales Walk tomorrow, Saturday, 2 September, which will see him walk 45 miles in under 18 hours from Anchor Bridge on the Kerry Ridgeway to Clarach.
As part of his training for tomorrow's big event, and to raise awareness of LATCH, Martienus walked along Aberystwyth promenade last Saturday. He set off at 4am and walked up and down it until 1pm. Joseph's mum, Charlie, joined him for part of the walk and filmed herself and Martienus on the seafront (see video above to hear more from Charlie and Martienus about the fundraising walk and LATCH).
Martienus walked about 25 miles and Charlie clocked 11 miles. They raised just under £100 in two LATCH buckets, and there are there are others still to collect and count.
"Medina Prom Dinner, The Hut and The Home Café all helped with donation buckets," said Charlie.
“Joseph died on the 11th June this year after a seven-year journey with brain cancer.
“One thing he thoroughly enjoyed was his weekly swimming lesson with Martienus at Penrhos pool.
“Martienus will raise funds for the Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity LATCH. He has already raised over £1,500 but hopefully, as a result of walking this huge distance, he will reach his target of £2011.
“The final leg of the epic journey will be from Bow Street to Clarach, where myself, my husband Kim and our son Cian, 15, will be walking with Martienus.”
Martienus, who described Joseph as “not just a pupil but a friend,” said he wanted to do something in his memory.
“I like doing challenges in spare time from teaching and this one will see me walk 45 miles in under 18 hours from Anchor Bridge on the Kerry Ridgeway to Clarach.
“I feel up for and ready for the challenge. I only have to think of Joseph and what his family have gone through. I just hope to raise lots of money so LATCH can help families benefit from Joseph’s legacy. His family are so lovely, and when you teach someone they become friends, and swimming was such a big part of Joseph’s life. He really wanted to swim underwater and we achieved that. I’m very grateful to Penrhos for the use of the pool to teach Joseph.”
Charlie said LATCH is there when you need it most. “They have supported our family for seven years and will go on to support us as we come to terms with the loss of our son. From that first blue light ride down to the University Hospital of Wales where we lived for five months with the family split between Cardiff and Aberystwyth, hasn’t stopped. We had somewhere to cook, wash clothes, store our belongings, access therapeutic treatments to keep us going, get counselling, help to complete forms, someone that wrote to our places of work, gave us advice, befriend other parents and families, a place to eat together, sit together off ward if that was possible.
“When Joseph was well enough, we benefited from amazing family time through the LATCH events and holiday opportunities. Joseph’s favourite event was the Latch Build a Bear visit to Cardiff and then on to an Italian restaurant for lunch. We visited Legoland and even the houses of parliament (where Joseph played hide and seek and met Father Christmas).
“As well as all of these big things, LATCH are a constant, helping with many small things that make a huge differences such as helping us to the car which was often parked a distance away with so many bags that are necessary to stay and travel with a child with such complex medical needs, to the friendly face that pops in to say hi. Joseph loved it when they went and had a look in their cupboard for a little something for him.
“They bought equipment when we needed it, helped us with grants such as fuel costs to and from Cardiff which were huge.
“They importantly remember the siblings too with bespoke sibling trips and gifts too at Christmas, they offer access to the swimming pool on site for respite, they come and visit us at home and think about all the things that you can’t, such as making beautiful jewellery with Joseph from his thumb print that we all lovingly wear now.
“There is so much to list; it is hard to convey but their emotional, physical and financial help has been vital to our wellbeing.”
To donate to Martienus' fundraising walk, visit www.justgiving.com/page/david-martienus-thomas-1689114644678
* Saturday, 2 September sees the 60th anniversary of the Across Wales Walk Martienus is taking part in. The aim of the event is to walk or run 45 miles from the England/Wales border near Anchor, Shropshire to Clarach. The longevity of the event is testimony to the commitment of the organisers and participants alike. The walk starts at 5am with an 18-hour limit to arrive on the coast. The highest and most demanding part is crossing Pumlumon. The reservoir was not complete the first time the event took place. Just under 100 people will take part this year with an age range of 16 to 80. Six will attempt a double crossing starting at Clarach on Friday, so if you see walkers at Clarach, give them some encouragement - it’ll be much appreciated!