Shropshire youngster sets 12 challenges in memory of best friend
A determined eight-year-old is raising thousands of pounds in memory of one of his closest friends who died after battling a serious illness.
Nate Pakeman from Loggerheads, near Market Drayton, set out to complete 12 feats after fast friend Tobi Weir fell ill with eosinophilia, a condition affecting his blood cells.
He would visit Tobi in the Birmingham Children's Hospital often, and late last year Nate, who attends St Mary's Church of England in Mucklestone, decided to set himself 12 charity challenges to support the doctors that were helping his friend.
He came up with one challenge for each of the months Tobi spent in hospital, all to raise money for the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.
Nate was partway through his first challenge, walking 100 miles, in January when Tobi died of complications from the illness, and Nate's mother Lauren said it only made him more determined to raise money for the hospital.
She said: "We met Tobi Weir when Nate was a week old at a baby group and they became instant friends.
"Tobi fell ill in December 2017 with cold and flu-like symptoms that wouldn't shift, and in January 2018 was taken to hospital for tests.
"They found his eosinophils (a while blood cell) were extraordinarily high and began to try to find the cause. He had over 100 tests and nothing showed up. In the meantime the eosinophils began attacking his own body, causing damage to his lungs.
"In October 2018 he went rapidly downhill and was put onto life support. He had various medications but nothing worked.
"He began making a recovery over Christmas 2018, when Nate spoke with him and told him he was going to raise money for the hospital by doing 12 challenges, one for each month Tobi had been at hospital.
"Nate initially saw Tobi most weeks in hospital, but found it very upsetting seeing him having tests constantly and not being allowed out of his room on some occasions due to infection risk.
"When Tobi went onto life support Nate didn't see him for weeks.
"He was in an induced coma. When Tobi was woken up Nate went to see him and put on a very brave face for Tobi, and told him what he had been up to and his plans for fundraising. Nate left the room and completely broke down.
"Unfortunately Tobi's condition deteriorated again and on January 19 he passed away.
"Nate had already begun his first challenge of walking 100 miles so we all found it extremely hard to carry on, but Nate refused to give up and has been more determined as each month passes."
Nate's latest challenge was to kayak five miles at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire, and it came after climbing the height of the Shard in London, scaling Mt Snowdon and 10 acts of kindness among other feats.
He has already raised more than £2,500, halfway to the £5,000 milestone he promised Tobi he would reach.
- To donate to Nate's appeal, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/nates12in12
Miss Pakeman said: "Nate first had the idea of raising money after visiting the fundraising shop in the hospital. He started drawing pictures and selling them to family, he raised £16 and felt so pleased taking it to the shop but he came home and told us it wasn't enough and he needed to do more.
"He sat down and researched ideas and came up with 12 challenges. Having these challenges has been a great focus for Nate. He feels he is doing something good for others off the back of a huge loss."
Nate posted an update on his page to say: "I am so, so happy that I have hit my second target after just six months. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated and supported me.
"Birmingham Children's Hospital is amazing and they looked after Tobi for a whole year, and I want to raise as much money as I possibly can to say thank you for everything they did."
Miss Pakeman said: "He says the hardest challenge was kayaking as it was so cold at the end, and he was so tired and hungry but he couldn't give up because Tobi never gave up. His favourite was climbing the height of the shard with 2 PCSO's."