Toby, 15, completes walk in First World War uniform for Poppy Appeal

A 15-year-old boy from Shotley has completed a charity walk dressed in full First World War uniform in aid of the Poppy Appeal.

History buff and 10th Essex Living History Group member Toby Bourne was inspired to carry out the walk on Saturday, November 15, after wanting to help veterans in need nationwide.

A part of the “My Poppy Run” campaign, Toby and his father Nick walked across the Shotley Peninsula with the hopes of raising £50 for the Royal British Legion – but have so far raised more than £520.

Toby wore a full First World War infantry uniform, complete with the insignia of the Essex Regiment – and even carried a replica Lee Enfield rifle.

Dad Nick said the walk was inspired by his experience with the living history group, who regularly perform at Kentwell Hall – and because of his family’s history during the war.

Three of Toby’s relatives fought in the war, with his great, great grandfather, Samuel Vaughan, an Essex Yeoman from Witham, receiving a shrapnel wound to the heard in the first battle of the Somme – before returning to the line after recovering. Toby received some of his medals as a birthday present in August.

Toby also regularly visits and cleans his grave at St Nicholas Church.

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His great, great uncle Frank was also one of the first soldiers operated on by Dr Harold Gillies after he was shot in the mouth and taken prisoner in March 1918.

On his father’s side, William Cook served during his 30s and was shot twice in the leg in two days during the Somme.

Mr Bourne said: “It is amazing how interested he is in history – I am so proud of him.

“He’s loved it – we had so much interest and picked up a lot of donations along the way.

“He arranged the whole thing himself and even attended school earlier this week dressed in the full uniform. The children were all so respectful and interested in the history.

“The 10th Essex Living History Group have been fantastic with him – and they need more young people to get involved to help keep the history alive.”

“I want to help veterans in need,” Toby added. “I’m quite proud of it.”

Donations to Toby’s campaign can be made here.

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