SUNDAY would have been the 27th birthday of James Charlton, a special, community-spirited young man, who lost his life earlier this year.

James, who came from Darlington, touched hearts across the country because he was known for acts of kindness.

When his beloved Darlington Football Club was plunged into administration in 2012, he was an integral part of attempts to save The Quakers, and his tireless fundraising efforts led to him being named the town’s Young Citizen of the Year.

He was a qualified referee in youth leagues from the age of 15, volunteered for St Teresa’s Hospice, administered first aid with St John Ambulance, served as a student ambassador at university in London, and travelled to France to help refugees.

In his memory, James’ family – parents Carol and Steve, sister, Katherine, and brother, Robert – launched a fundraising campaign, which has now raised the magnificent sum of £6,905.

The money has been split equally between four charities close to James' heart: the Alzheimer’s Society, Care 4 Calais, Plan International UK, and Mind.

His grandfather and grandmother lived with Alzheimer’s disease and, when he won the Young Citizen of the Year award, he chose to give his cheque to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Shortly after starting university, James volunteered to go to France with his friend, Alex Kilcran, to volunteer for the Care 4 Calais charity.

The plight of refugees living in the camp in Calais at the time – many of them escaping the war in Syria – spurred James into action.

Carol has been a long-term sponsor of children through Plan International and, while James was in his final year at primary school, she took him to Senegal to meet two girls, in Dakar, who she’d supported.

James was able to visit a school and healthcare facility that had been built by the charity and, when he returned, he made a presentation to the whole school about his trip.

Carol said: “We've been blown away by the number of donations, and overwhelmed by the diversity of the people who were thinking of James – at Tesco where he worked, the football community that meant so much to him, and fellow students.”

Highlights of the fundraising campaign included the GKT School of Medical Education – the medical school of King’s College, in London, where James studied biomedical science – organising a football match in his memory.

It featured current and former students playing for the James Charlton Cup, and it is to become an annual event.

The proceeds from the match were included in a £2,000 donation made by the GKT School and the National Association of Medical Schools. A further £1,000 donation came from Camden and Islington Youth Football League.

“Now that the appeal has been completed, and the money handed over, the family just wanted to let everyone know how grateful we are for all the support and kindness,” added Carol, who is chair of St Teresa’s Hospice.

“We remember James every day, we miss him terribly, and it has meant so much to us to know how much he was loved and that he’s not forgotten.”