300 join walk in memory of Ben
More than 300 people took part in a charity walk at the weekend in memory of Lance Corporal Ben Whatley, who died in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve.They were taking part in an event which first inspired him to become a Royal Marine.
More than 300 people took part in a charity walk at the weekend in memory of Lance Corporal Ben Whatley, who died in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve.
They were taking part in an event which first inspired him to become a Royal Marine.
When he was just 12, the outgoing and popular pupil at Glebe House School, Hunstanton, took part in the annual 25-mile leavers' walk from the school grounds through the north Norfolk countryside, led by former marine Rick Filon.
On Saturday, nearly four months after L/Cpl Whatley, 20, was killed leading his troops against Taliban insurgents, more than 300 people took on the walk in his memory.
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As friends, families, and fellow marines joined in the charity walk to raise money for Help for Heroes, his proud parents Sam and Teresa Whatley, from Tittleshall, said they were humbled by the support.
'It's a marvellous turnout. We had no idea it was going to be such an event, really,' said Mrs Whatley.
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'Ben would have enjoyed it. He was always outdoors. I just wanted people to enjoy today as much as they could.'
Mr Whatley took part in the last five miles of the memorial walk and said going walking had helped in the grieving process for his son.
'We are humbled by the amount of people who have worked so hard to plan everything,' he said. 'We are very grateful to the school for doing this.'
He said the Help for Heroes charity was very important to them. He wanted people to think about the soldiers who were able to return home but had to live with life-changing injuries.
'We want to raise as much as possible for them,' he said. 'They deserve it. It's more important than the deaths. They have to live with it for the rest of their lives.'
Before the walk, led by L/Cpl Whatley's brother Luke, there was a minute's silence and a prayer, followed by the school hymn, On Eagles' Wings.
The event was organised by the school, and walkers and runners were split into groups that marked the different periods of the marine's life, including friends from Litcham High School, those who drank with him at the Dabbling Duck in Great Massingham and fellow marines.
Pupils at the school still take on the leavers' walk, although former marine Mr Filon now lives in South Africa.
Bo Tyler, on the organising committee, said: 'It looks like we have raised a considerable sum for Help for Heroes which is fantastic, and Mr and Mrs Whatley seemed really bowled over by the efforts of so many people, which must have been very heart-warming.'