THE memory of much-loved Brierley Hill footballer Olly Wilkes continues to be kept alive through charity fundraising.
Olly from Withymoor was just 22 when he took his own life in April 2017.
The lives of his family and friends have never been the same but his heartbroken loved ones have been keeping Olly’s memory alive through a host of charity fundraisers that have raised thousands of pounds for good causes.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis The Olly Wilkes Memorial Football Tournament, which was scheduled for June 27, has had to be cancelled but Olly’s friends now plan to run almost a marathon over 24 hours.
A group of pals, headed up by Joel Fullwood, will be taking on four-mile runs every four hours over a 24-hour period – covering a total of 24 miles.
Olly’s dad Simon Wilkes, who remains devastated over his son’s tragic death, said: “So many friends of Olly’s have suffered since losing him and this coronavirus has affected so many mentally. Monies raised from this event are going to CALM charity, which is close to many of the lads’ hearts.”
He added: “As a family we are so touched by Olly’s mates and others who want to organise events in his memory, raising monies for charities along the way for causes close to their hearts.”
Matt Bird, from Kingswinford, is among those who have been raising money in memory of Olly. He has just completed a charity challenge in aid of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust to help provide vital equipment for COVID-19 patients.
The challenge saw Matt run 10km each day for 50 consecutive days – encouraged and driven on by his friends – with the final run on June 15 dedicated to Olly.
He said: “I ran 521.51km, 324.05 miles, 12 marathons, and all of that was complete in 45 hours. In 50 days I would have ran from Stourbridge to Dundee, Scotland.
“We had some special runs for VE Day and the 50th run was dedicated to ‘Our Olly’ and Olly’s family.”
The 50-day challenge has raised more than £2,000 for the Dudley Group which Matt said was his way of “saying thank you for all their hard work and dedication to protect our humanity” and he added: “I would like to personally thank all the people who made this challenge what it was. The JustGiving page is open until June 30. Everyone and anyone is welcome to donate.”
Olly’s dad Simon, who runs Pure Sport Foundation, said of Matt’s efforts: “It was a wonderful achievement in completing the challenge, a marvellous amount of monies raised and a beautiful thought to dedicate the last run in memory of ‘Our Olly’.”
Anyone wishing to donate and help boost Matt’s fundraising total can do so online at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthew-paul14.
Those wishing to support Olly’s friends in their charity challenge efforts in aid of CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) can also donate online at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/joel-fullwood2.
A further fundraiser in memory of Olly is also planned for next month. The annual Olly Wilkes Fishing Contest 2020 will go ahead at Elmbridge Fisheries on Sunday July 19 in aid of Lymphoma Action.
Places in the competition have already been snapped up and Simon is now on the look out for raffle prizes for the event.