July 23 2014 Latest news:
Friday, April 4, 2014
A school staff member has embarked on an epic trek through the Himalayas in memory of a former pupil who died from a rare liver disease aged just 18.
Haverstock School admissions officer Karen Robinson’s mountain expedition was inspired by the bravery and determination of former student Leo Barron.
Leo, of Hemmingway Close, Gospel Oak, was born with the rare liver condition Budd-Chiari syndrome which led to his death in 2012.
Hampstead resident Ms Robinson jets out to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, on Monday to spend six days marching along Himalayan passes at heights of up to 3,210 metres, where she will find a spot to leave Leo’s photo “for him to stare out over the world”.
“He was a very inspirational young man,” she said.
“He was born with this problem but he never moaned and groaned, he just got on with his life day-to-day. Some of us complain over a cough or cold, but he got on with it every day.
“To think he knew he would not have a long life, that’s pretty scary, but he faced it every day and he faced every challenge.”
Ms Robinson, who has been at the Chalk Farm school, in Haverstock Hill, for 15 years, got to know Leo because he would often visit the school’s office when he was feeling unwell.
She will spend the week in the company of 30 strangers who are also walking the Himalayan route in aid of charity, staying in hostels along the way.
The 50-year-old has so far raised more than £3,400 in sponsorship for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF), with strong sales of her home-baked fairy cakes helping her smash a £3,000 target.
Leo was himself a committed funraiser for the charity, taking part in a 10km challenge every year in the hope of helping other youngsters with similar conditions.
“The charity was close to his heart,” said Ms Robinson.
“He did the 10km when he was just out of hospital and really unwell. It’s nice to raise money for the same charity.”
CLDF takes action against all forms of childhood liver disease, providing information and emotional support, research funds and a voice for those affected.
Chief executive Alison Taylor said: “Karen’s trek and the support she has received from the school is a fantastic example of a community coming together to raise funds and a wonderful way to commemorate Leo’s memory.”
You can support her trek by going to www.justgiving.com/Karen-Robinson10.