Stepping out in memory of Michael

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A Kelso mother and her four children have been overwhelmed by the support they received for a sponsored walk to Berwick in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

Last July, Jacqueline Bates lost her husband Michael in a tragic fatal motorcycle accident. Her four children, although grown up, also lost their dad. Since then, Jacqueline and her children, Tom, 26, Joanna, 23, Sophie, 21, and 20-year-old Mick have tirelessly been raising funds for the service, which played a crucial part on the day of the accident.

Jacqueline’s sister Karen Smith, told us: “Jacqueline is such a selfless person and against all the pain she has gone through and is still going through, she has organised coffee mornings, bake sales etc. The kids have recently raised £4,500 by all doing a tandem skydive from Peterlee Parachute Centre, which is an amazing amount of money.”

Following the siblings skydive, Jacqueline said: “My kids lost their dad and I lost my husband that day. I want to say thank you to the crew who tried their very best, I know they did all they could to save him. Tragically it was too late, but in appreciation, we wanted to give back to the charity. GNAAS is a fantastic charity and one which will always remain close to our heart.”

And so, on the weekend of June 28/29, Jacqueline organised ‘Michael’s Miles’ in aid of the service – a sponsored walk from Kelso to Berwick and back.

She said: “Our silver wedding anniversary would have been on June 30 and so I felt it was fitting that we did something around that time.”

Sister Karen said: “Initially Jacqueline thought that there would be a handful of family and friends willing to do the walk with her. Amazingly, 45 people took part – all going to show how local people in Kelso feel towards Jacqueline and family.”

Speaking to Jacqueline after the event, she told The Southern: “We had an amazing weekend surrounded by the best of people. It was certainly not the easiest thing I have ever done, but it was worth every step of the way.

“Forty-five people took part in the walk and several others supported us on the way, bringing out water and goodies! I must say a big thank you to Cornhill Village Shop who allowed us to stop there both days for lunch and supplied us with chilled water.

“We walked from Kelso down the old railway over land owned by Peter Straker Smith who had kindly given us permission to walk on his land. We then walked down to Wark and onto Cornhill. After lunch we followed the main road, down to The Salutation where the girls supplied up with much needed refreshments. After that we cut back down onto the Norham Road and came out at Velvet Hall corner, walking passed Longridge Towers and onto Berwick. I had a chat with Hugh Brown on Radio Borders as we walked.

“We stayed overnight in Berwick Youth Hostel which was amazing, they were so welcoming. Our return journey mirrored the day before and we even kept the same pace, arriving back in Kelso just after six – piped in by Gav Horsburgh.

“We finally had tea together in the Black Swan before heading home for an early (ish) night.

“I can’t even begin to let you know how thankful I am to those who joined us for the walk. We had set a target of £2,500 – the cost of one flight – in the hope that it may make a difference to another family, but so far the total we have raised is over £4,000 – we have over £2,000 pledged on sponsor sheets, most of it has been handed in, with more coming in, and £2,916 through justgiving. We are hoping to send a cheque off in the next couple of weeks.” If you would 
like to support the efforts of Jacqueline and her family, visit their justgiving page at