SILENCE is golden for a family facing a race against time in their fight for justice for their dead son.

A sponsored silence by a friend of holiday death victim Christopher Rochester may have raised as much as £400 towards his parents' legal expenses for the appeal by the Greek doctors convicted of his manslaughter by negligence.

Mr Rochester, 24, of Chester-le-Street, County Durham, fell from a balcony on the island of Rhodes, in 2000, and died in a local hospital because he did not get the treatment he needed.

In 2003, three hospital doctors were jailed for three years, but the sentence was not activated pending their appeal.

The hearing takes place in about a fortnight and Mr Rochester's mother and stepfather, Pam and George Cummings, have to raise £2,000 to pay for two lawyers to represent them and argue for the convictions to stand.

Baker's shop worker Debi Burrows, 39, of Chester-le-Street, who knew Mr Rochester when he worked as a barman and DJ at the town's Lambton Arms pub, staged a five-hour sponsored silence outside the hostelry.

Ms Burrows, who has done a fundraising bungee jump for the Christopher Rochester Fund, stayed silent from 11am to 4pm.

"It went very well,'' said Mr Cummings. "There were four of us with collecting tins - myself, Pam, Debi and the trust's treasurer Mary Wealls.

"One woman gave £20 and we had people giving £5 and £10 notes.

"Everybody from school- children to pensioners. One school pupil came up and said he only had 10p left from his dinner money and gave us that.

"Every penny takes us nearer our target, it is one penny less that we have to raise.''

"Debi had about £200 in sponsorship pledges and I think with what we have collected we will have about £400, which is excellent.''

Family and friends were collecting on Saturday in Front Street, Chester-le-Street.