Bereaved brother completes the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge in honour of his Armed Forces sibling who died just six months prior

2021-09-28

“Completing the walk was emotional as it’s only a few months since Gavin’s death. However, knowing that we were raising funds for Scotty’s, who have been such a great support to the boys, helped us keep motivated and put one foot in front of the other, even when we couldn’t see clearly through thick fog.”

Civil servant James Selway (24) completed the Welsh Three Peaks Challenge on the 19th September, all in memory of his late sibling, Colour Sergeant Gavin Hillier, and to raise money for a charity that has been a pillar of support to his nephews over the last six months.

James and Mia

Colour Sergeant Hillier died on 4th March 2021. He was just 35 when he was fatally wounded during a military training exercise, leaving behind his wife, Karyn and teenage sons Declan and Connor who are 15 and 13.

Since his death, Gavin’s children have been supported by bereaved Armed Forces children’s charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers. The charity offers integral support to children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the Armed Forces.

James, who was very close to his older brother, has been amazed by the support Scotty’s has provided his nephews in such a short space of time, and wanted to do something to raise money so the charity can continue to support Declan and Connor, as well as other bereaved Forces children and young people like them.

“It’s hard to express the pain caused by the death of a military family member,” said James. “Gavin was an incredible son, brother, husband, father and soldier, and will be forever remembered for the positive impact he made in his work, and to our family.

Colour Sergeant Gavin Hillier

“He loved being a soldier and dedicated his life to the Army. Over the years he’d been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo, and in 2019 he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal by Prince Charles, colonel of the regiment.”

With his brother firmly at the front of his mind, James completed the gruelling hike, which took in the peaks of Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen Y Fan alongside his partner Mia, raising £1,500 for Scotty’s Little Soldiers in the process.

Discussing his challenge, James said: “We began our challenge at five in the morning on Sunday, ready to tackle Snowdon. It was pitch black and wet, but knowing we were raising money for such a good cause helped spur us on. In total the challenge took us 14 hours to complete which we were incredibly pleased with, and we were even joined by my nephews Declan and Conner, on the final climb of Pen Y Fan.

“Completing the walk was emotional as it’s only a few months since Gavin’s death. However, knowing that we were raising funds for Scotty’s, who have been such a great support to the boys, helped us keep motivated and put one foot in front of the other, even when we couldn’t see clearly through thick fog.

“Seeing photos from Scotty’s events are so inspiring, the smiles on the children’s faces make every moment of fundraising worthwhile. No child should ever have to suffer the death of an Armed Forces parent alone, and Scotty’s stay by the child’s side every step of the way.”

James, Mia, Declan and Conner

Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which was set up in 2010 by war widow Nikki Scott, offers integral support to children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the Armed Forces.

Nikki saw the devastating impact the death of her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, in 2009 had on their two young children and wanted to help others in the same situation.

The charity is currently providing assistance to hundreds of bereaved Forces children and young people around the UK and services offered include guidance to parents and carers, access to professional child bereavement support, personal education and learning assistance (including grants) and fun activities such as holiday respite breaks and group events. These are all designed to remind the children and young people supported by Scotty’s that they are not alone.

Nikki said: “If it wasn’t for fundraisers like James and Mia, we wouldn’t be able to continue providing the vital support that is needed for bereaved children and young people across the UK. We’re so grateful to them both, and incredibly proud of our members, Declan and Conner, who joined them in the difficult climb of Pen Y Fan. We’re so pleased that many bereaved Armed Forces children and young people will benefit greatly from the fundraising efforts of Gavin’s generous family.”

Find out more about Scotty’s…

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