60-mile canoe challenge for Wellingborough optometrist

Optometrist Bob Halsey from Wellingborough is doing a sponsored canoe trail
Optometrist Bob Halsey from Wellingborough is doing a sponsored canoe trail

A Wellingborough optometrist will be marking his 60th birthday by taking part in a 60-mile canoe trail in memory of a little girl who died aged just seven months.

Bob Halsey, founder of Halsey Opticians in Wellingborough, will join seven of his childhood friends who are all celebrating their 60th birthdays this year for the fundraiser on June 14.

Their efforts will be in memory of Layla Violet, the granddaughter of Steve Andrews who is part of the group, who lost her life to Spinal Musuclar Atrophy (SMA) at just seven-months-old.

The friends’ endeavours will also be raising money for the children’s hospice Rainbows in Loughborough.

They will be rowing for five days across Scotland, starting at Fort William and crossing the open waters of Loch Lochy and Loch Ness before finishing in Inverness.

SMA is rare, but is the leading genetic killer of infants and toddlers with approximately 95 per cent of the most severely diagnosed cases resulting in death by the age of 18 months.

Bob said: “It’s quite a daunting task ahead of us but we all can’t wait to get started.

“SMA is a frankly horrible disease that not many people are aware of.

“When Layla was first diagnosed it was a hammer blow to all of us and we’re just glad to have been able to rally around Steve and the family as a group and help him to raise vital funding for The SMA Trust and shine a spotlight on this disease.

“I would like to thank the team at Halsey Opticians for all of their support so far and want to encourage other local businesses to really help our sponsorship efforts so we can help create a future in which this disease is no longer a threat to children.”