Oakham boy Joel hits the road to help refugees

Joel Condron, nine, and his dad John, will walk from Oakham to London to raise money for Save the Children. Photo: MSMP-06-10-15-am002 EMN-150710-170627001
Joel Condron, nine, and his dad John, will walk from Oakham to London to raise money for Save the Children. Photo: MSMP-06-10-15-am002 EMN-150710-170627001

A nine-year-old boy will walk almost 100 miles from his home in Oakham to London to raise awareness of the plight of refugees.

Joel Condron was moved when he saw television news footage of refugees, including children younger than himself, fleeing their countries and walking hundreds of miles to safety.

After speaking to his dad John he decided he wanted to help the Save the Children charity while also raising awareness of the situation.

Together they came up with the idea of a walk to Hope Square in London. The square is home to the Kindertransport statue, which thanks Britain for taking 10,000 unaccompanied children, mainly Jewish, who fled from Nazi persecution in 1938 and 1939.

They will set off on October 24 and aim to arrive in London a week later on October 31.

Joel, a pupil at Oakham CE Primary School, said: “I thought it was really sad when I saw it on the news and thought I should do something about it.

Joel Condron, nine, and his dad John, will walk from Oakham to London to raise money for Save the Children. Photo: MSMP-06-10-15-am003 EMN-150710-170638001

Joel Condron, nine, and his dad John, will walk from Oakham to London to raise money for Save the Children. Photo: MSMP-06-10-15-am003 EMN-150710-170638001

“We’re going to do the walk because that’s what the refugees must do.”

Joel’s main aim is to help children who are less fortunate than himself. With the help of his dad he has set up a page on crowdfunding website Indiegogo, where people can pledge to support his journey in exchange for “perks”.

For example, for a £5 donation Joel will give one of his prized Lego figures or Hot Wheels cars. And for £50 he will give a hand-drawn picture to say thank you.

People can also donate without a perk in return.

“I’m a bit nervous,” said Joel. “We have been practising. We walked for five miles around Rutland Water to break in my new boots.

“But I am quite excited. I’ve not done anything like this before.”

To show solidarity with the refugees, Joel and his father will travel light, carrying only the clothes they set off in, a sleeping bag and a toothbrush. They had originally planned to camp every night. But once word of their challenge spread, offers of accommodation came flooding in. They now have somewhere to stay on each night of the trip, and hope the kindness of those who have offered help is reflected in the country’s wider attitude to refugees.

Joel’s father John was also moved to do something to help refugees after seeing the extent of the current crisis. He took a Fords of Oakham van full of donated items of clothing and camping equipment to a refugee camp in Calais on September 30.

Read more: Tragic pictures spur communities into action to deliver aid to refugee camps.

“The conditions are pretty squalid,” said John. “A lot of the time the camps are flooded, and they’re only in tents.

“Everyone we met spoke good English and was well-educated. We met a teacher and a guy who was an engineer for the British Army in Afghanistan, but when they pulled out he was left there and exposed to the Taliban.”

John thanked all those who had donated items for the refugees.

You can follow Joel and his father’s challenge on Twitter @ChildrenBeHappy. So far they have raised just over £1,000 but there is plenty of time left to sponsor them. Visit Indiegogo.