Mum’s walk in memory of son Andrew

Stephanie Ackroyd with the training shoes she will walk in. Picture by FRANK REID
Stephanie Ackroyd with the training shoes she will walk in. Picture by FRANK REID

A MUM devastated by the tragic death of her oldest son in a freak kayaking accident is getting ready to clock up the miles for charity to celebrate his birthday.

Heartbroken Stephanie Ackroyd had her world “ripped apart” when her son died in February, this year.

Andrew Weatherill, 33, got into difficulties on the River Tyne, in Northumberland, and became trapped under a weir.

He was enjoying a Valentine’s weekend getaway with his girlfriend, Rachel Johnson, when the tragedy happened.

He died leaving behind his two young children, Louis, eight, from a previous relationship, and Charlie, who was just four months old at the time.

Mum Stephanie, 56, says not a day goes by where she doesn’t think of her “beautiful” son. She told the Mail she has had to have counselling sessions since Andrew’s death but she will never get over the tragic incident.

Stephanie, a health care assistant in the town, says one of the only things which keeps her going is fundraising.

Since the tragedy, she has organised a number of car-boot sales to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance, who airlifted Andrew after the accident.

She will be joined by close family and friends for a sponsored walk to raise money for the cause tomorrow – just a day before Andrew would have celebrated his 34th birthday.

“The fundraising keeps me going,” said Stephanie, who lives in the Rossmere area of Hartlepool.

“I have tried to get as many people as possible involved.

“I don’t have a target of how much I want to raise, anything at all will be a bonus.”

The walk will start at Navigation Point at 10am and the fundraisers will make their way to the paddling pool in Seaton Carew before turning round and heading back.

Stephanie, who is also a mum to Martin, 30, looked back on the “heartbreaking” moment she was told of Andrew’s accident.

“I thought people were telling lies,” she said.

“It was devastating, awful, it’s still so hard now.

“I have at least two bad days every week, not a day goes by where I don’t think about him.

“It’s especially hard now, knowing he would have been celebrating his birthday on Monday.”

Andrew’s family and friends will visit the Blue Lagoon, in Seaton Carew, on Monday, where his ashes were scattered after his death.

Andrew also left behind dad Roland, brother Lee, sister Jayne, one niece, five nephews and a great-nephew.