It was 25 years ago in the coming April that my dad phoned me at work, I was 26 he was 57.

I was a senior quantity surveyor climbing the ladder of a national contractor. I was, of course, an extremely busy man.

As I nipped out of my meeting, the secretary handed me a post it note saying  ‘your dad called at 3.40pm’, I thought, it is ok I will call him back after my meeting. I was a busy man after all.

I went back into my meeting and at 4.15pm. The secretary returned to the meeting to tell me that I had to take the call on the line.

I did.

My dad had suffered a heart attack in his garden at home in Manchester. He was being transported to the hospital by ambulance.

I left the site immediately praying as I drove that he would be alive. I fully expected him to be…

I arrived at the hospital and saw my mum’s face broken with despair and heartbreak. They had met in South Africa in 1965 and had been together until that day.

My Dad had died. And for me, with a baby due in two weeks, life had changed in an instant.

The Stone in My Shoe

I carried the burden of that day and the phone call like a stone in my shoe, like toothache for 20 years before eventually feeling liberated from my mental and emotional stress.

The liberation came from my growth and maturity as a person, my travels, the focus of deadlines. I feel that now I am ready to commemorate ‘the stone in my shoe’, and what my dad’s death meant for me as an individual.

In the next 9 months or so my partner Chantelle and I will undertake a number of 10km, half marathons and other fund-raising events in the UK and South Africa in support of the charity through to April 2022 and my dad’s glorious 25th commemoration.

You are welcome to join us.

My dad was born in Sussex and met my mum in South Africa before settling in Manchester. It is appropriate therefore that I retrace his magnificent life voyage.

We commence on 24 September 2021 with the Braaidag trail run in the Cowhouse, just north of Johannesburg. The effort will conclude with a walk across Seven Sisters in the beautiful Sussex Countryside in April 2022.

We all have a ‘stone in our shoe’ at times in our lives. We all deal with it in different ways, we survive our stresses

I would ask that you support our efforts in any way you can. Please sponsor us, or if you can please feel free to organise your own event in support of ‘the stone in my shoe.’

The link to donate is here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/damian-james3