A MAN whose father died when he was a child is trekking the entire English coastline to help bereaved children – and he is cleaning beaches along the way.

Tim Williams was just 12 when he and younger brother, Mickey, went to wake up their dad, David, at the family home in Esh, County Durham, before school, thinking he had overslept.

Read more: How Durham's new history centre will look inside

He recalls: “I tried shaking him playfully, I laughed as I hit him over the head with a pillow.

“I felt sheer terror as I noticed he wasn’t breathing. He had died in his sleep.

“Over 20 years on, I still get reminded of that day when I see 8.11am on a clock.”

Mr Williams said at the time of the father-of-four’s death, in 1998, there was little awareness of mental health or how to support grieving children and he ended up suppressing his feelings.

It was only in recent years that he started to come to terms with the trauma of what happened and to get the clarity and closure he needed.

That is why Mr Williams, who now lives in Surrey, decided to leave his job with a recruitment agency to take on an epic challenge in aid of Grief Encounter.

The charity aims to relieve the emotional distress of bereaved children, young people and their families by providing counselling, family fun days and a confidential national helpline.

Mr Williams said: “Losing someone you love is always difficult and traumatic, grieving as a child is especially difficult.

“The worst thing you can do is bottle up your feelings, you need to go through the grieving process and it is so much easier with professional support like Grief Encounter offers.

“Even talking about my own experiences during this walk has been tough for me, but I hope sharing my story will help more children feel comfortable in seeking professional support in times of grief.

“It is lovely to have been able to raise money to help other youngsters dealing with bereavement.”

Mr Williams started his journey in Cumbria and, when he set off from Whitley Bay yesterday, had walked 2,155 miles over 118 days, camped for 82 nights and endured 31 rainy days.

He has worn out two pairs of walking shoes, lost two stones in weight, and raised almost £7,000 in sponsorship which will fund support for 242 children through Grief Encounter.

Along the way he has also done 18 beach cleans – one in each county he has travelled through – and a 19th for Surfers Against Sewage action group, reporting data back to the Marine Conservation Society.

Mr Williams completed the Teesside and County Durham coast last week, and is now walking on Northumberland beaches where he spent much of his childhood.

He said: “I’ve had really mixed feelings on this final stretch, it is very emotional being back in the North where I have many memories of staying in our caravan at Seahouses, playing cricket on the beach at Bamburgh and Boxing day walks at Craster.”

Mr Williams expects to complete the walk just above Berwick-upon-Tweed on Saturday.

For details or to sponsor Mr Williams visit timswalk.co.uk


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.



For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.