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Latest News 30 April 2021

Soldier to complete 48-hour march in memory of mum who died from coronavirus

Serving Soldier James Kirby has set off on a monumental challenge for Blesma in memory of his mum who died after contracting coronavirus.

James will march for 48-hours while wearing his Duke of Lancaster’s headdress in honour of his “beautiful” Mum.

Denise Kirby, who was a double amputee, died at Southport and Formby Hospital on March 12 aged just 59.

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Denise was a mum of three boys

James, a Corporal, said: “Mum was just your usual Lancaster lass. She lost both her legs through diabetes and had a stroke which resulted in her losing use of her hands, but she always had a bit of banter about her. She was tough.”

"With mum being a double amputee and needing my help with mobility and nursing, I knew there were many people within Blesma who are in the same situation as me and my mum. Blesma gives veterans opportunities in life and I think what they do is amazing." 

James set off at 08:30 this morning (Friday 30 April) from Preston Flag Market at the Cenotaph and will march to ITC Catterick and back.

“I’m carrying 59 pounds to honour mum’s age and the reason I’m taking 48 hours to complete the challenge is I sat with mum for two days as she took her last breaths.

“The route I’m taking is the same I took when I got a call from the hospital saying mum was going to die. It was quite rough to remain calm and I had to have a lot of mental resilience knowing I needed to support mum in her last moments. The march will represent the fight she made in those last days and also help me recreate the mental resilience I needed to say goodbye to my mum.

“The challenge is going to be emotional. My heart is absolutely bleeding inside. My heart broke. It’s something I will use to get me through the challenge. I’ll release it in a positive manner. The challenge will benefit people in the long run and also benefit me mentally as well.

“I’ve not grieved for my mum yet so when I get to the end, when I finish and get all the way back to Preston, I will take a knee and probably shed a tear for my mum.”

James Kirby Blesma
On the journey James will be accompanied by his comrades, football teammates, friends and family who will complete separate legs of the march.

To support James, please visit

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