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Avid skaters take to streets of London to remember late loved ones

Avid skaters have taken to the streets of London to remember late loved ones.

Wheels and Wheelchairs – a group of wheelchair users and skaters – and bereavement charity Grief Encounter organised a “special” event called the “Forget Me Not Skate”.

It took place from roughly 1.30pm to 4pm, and saw attendees skate a total of 10 miles, from Battersea Park to The Strand and back, to remember loved ones who are no longer with us.

Isaac Harvey, Wheels and Wheelchairs’ president, said the idea behind the skate came from an event Grief Encounter has had since Covid, which is called the “Forget-Me-Not Walk”.

Man in wheelchair smiling at the camera
Mr Harvey (in the wheelchair) said the skate allowed him and fellow skaters to remember late loved ones (Wheels and Wheelchairs/PA)

“The event is all about walking in memory of someone,” the 28-year-old who is based in Ilford, in east London, and is a wheelchair user, told the PA news agency.

“The (chief executive officer) of Grief Encounter (Suzy Turner Jones) wanted to work with Wheels and Wheelchairs and so we came up with the ‘Forget Me Not Skate’, where we skate in memory of someone.”

Some of the people remembered by the group include Wheels and Wheelchairs’ former president Janet Richards, who died in 2019, and Alan Paxford, a fellow skater and huge supporter of the group, who died towards the end of 2022.

Mr Harvey said: “I never actually got the opportunity to meet Janet apart from an email she sent me trying to get me to join the group.

“I would hear so many memories and stories about Janet and how she brought the team together and it felt like I did know her, and to be able to skate in her memory was really special.

“I did a few skates with Alan and he always made me smile and had a good vibe about him.

“He was really passionate about Wheels and Wheelchairs and made a big impact.”

He said there were roughly 40 skaters in attendance, as well as three wheelchair users, and everyone expressed their gratitude for being able to reflect on memories with lost loved ones in a meaningful way.

All funds from the event will go towards funding the Bereavement Support Services offered by Grief Encounter and the activities of Wheels and Wheelchairs.

More than £500 has been raised so far, which Mr Harvey said is “amazing”.

“For us, it means we’ll be able to do more trips abroad and get our wheelchair users to experience marathons in different places,” he said.

“We’re also looking to do a challenge in August, where we’re going to skate from Brighton to Paris for the start of the Paralympic Games over four days.”

He said that skate will be “special” because Wheels and Wheelchairs was created in 2012 and drew inspiration from a French group called Mobile En Ville.

“It was the French group who came over for the London Games, so 12 years later we’re doing a complete circle, which is really cool,” he added.

The fundraising link can be accessed here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/forget-me-not-skate?