to skies 
for dad and brother

Alan Gray and Carole Orton on the day
Alan Gray and Carole Orton on the day

A BROTHER and sister who suffered double tragedy took to the skies to help top a near-£12,000 fund set up to help victims of an asbestos-related cancer.

Hartlepool siblings Carole Orton, 44, and Alan Gray, 52, took part in a sponsored parachute jump at Shotton Airfield to help victims of mesothelioma after losing their father Harry and brother Stephen to the industrial disease.

It was a double achievement for auxiliary nurse Carole, from the Clavering area, as she shed four-and-a-half stones to be able to take part in the daredevil tandem skydive.

The efforts of Carole and Alan, who is dad to Clair Gray, 30, and Natalie Newnes, 26, raked in just over £1,000, which was added to other funds raised by their family through various events to make £2,330.

This figure, which includes more than £100 raised by the late Stephen’s son, Harry, nine, after he took part in the Miles for Men event, has now been donated to the Wallsend-based Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, which is under the umbrella of the British Lung Foundation.

It means the family, which has regularly appeared in the Mail in recent years after pledging funds following their double tragedy, has now donated a total of £11,820.47 through the Harry and Stephen Gray Snow Drop Memorial Fund over the past three years.

They had previously raised a further £4,000 before they were aware of the regional fund.

Carole, who is mum to Laura, 19, and Rachel, 16, said: “We jumped from 10,000ft and I just couldn’t wait to experience it. It was fabulous and I want to do it again.”

Carole, who lost weight with help of Slimming World, added that she had been overweight all of her life and the parachute jump and fundraising were really inspired her to lose weight.

Harry and Stephen both died from mesothelioma after coming into contact with asbestos fibres while working as laggers.

Harry, a granddad of 15 married to Margaret, passed away aged 68 in 2001 and Stephen died aged 44 in June 2007.

Stephen’s son Harry was just four and daughter Katie was just 15-months-old at the time of his death.

He also left behind fiancee Diane Hurst. Carole called for more support for mesothelioma causes.

She said: “We don’t get the support, it’s mainly breast cancer in this area, we could really do with people doing events for mesothelioma.”

Carole added that a Facebook group, Memory Harry-Stephen Gray has been set up to raise awareness of the disease and former colleagues of their father are members.

Anyone wanting to find out more about the cause, or anyone who would like to arrange a fundraising event in aid of mesothelioma can email: carle1orton@yahoo.co.uk

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