Youngsters taking on charity challenges because they care

Young charity challenger Olivia Mae Johnson

Young charity challenger Olivia Mae Johnson

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On the surface nine-year-old Olivia Mae Johnson and Charlie Nelson, 12, don’t have much in common.

But both have lost people they love and are tackling their bereavement in a remarkably adult way.

Olivia Mae is doing a cycle ride for Age Concern Luton in memory of her beloved great grandad, John Allen, while Charlie, whose younger brother Reece died of a brain tumour, is planning a 26 mile walk in aid of the Brain Tumour Charity.

Lancot Lower School pupil Olivia Mae from Dunstable was very close to her octogenarian great grandad, who worked at Vauxhall and lived in Strathmore Avenue. He died last year.

She said: “He liked helping me with my homework and he used to give me very hard sums.

“His favourite colour was blue and he was always making me things.”

She added: “The idea of doing something to help old people just popped in to my head. My dad said lots don’t have anyone to look after them, so I decided to email Age Concern Luton about it.”

During the summer holidays she and her dad Dan, 31, a Prime Care support co-ordinator, will be cycling from their home in Frenchs Avenue to Stanbridge.

She’s already raised £200 in sponsorship and hopes to make a lot more.

“I like riding my bike and I like helping old people,” she said. “I want all the money to go to giving them the help and treatment they deserve.”

ACL chief executive Colette McKeaveny said: “Olivia Mae came into the office and stole all our hearts. We’ve never had such a young fundraiser but she’s mature way beyond her years.

“We’re thrilled and touched she’s doing this on our behalf.”

Lealands High School student Charlie Nelson lost his brother Reece in September 2012 and after father Steve conquered the London Marathon in April, the 12-year-old began thinking about how he too could raise funds for the Brain Tumour Charity, while honouring the memory of his brother.

Charlie has set his sights on the same distance his father was able to complete, but will walk the 26 miles with a group of friends from the school Year 7 football team.

The challenge will take place over two days at Grafham Water, near Huntington, with a night’s camping in between at nearby Top End Farm.

Steve Nelson told Luton News that he was proud of his son’s plans.

He said: “I did the marathon in April and my wife Debbie has got a ladies’ night coming up so Charlie feels like this is his chance to do something himself.

“He wants to do it for his brother and raise awareness for the illness.

“I was really chuffed when he said he wanted to do this for Reece.”

To raise more funds for the charity Charlie organised a football shootout competition at his school fete.

Steve added: “Whatever Charlie is able to raise will be fantastic.

“In the end I managed to raise £11,300 from the marathon which was unbelievable, I would have been happy with a couple of grand.”

> Donations for the walk can be given in to Lealands High, Sundon Park Road.

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