November 2018

Sixth Form students help keep fundraising on track with sponsored walk

Sixth Form students at Withernsea High School have been congratulated for their fundraising efforts after helping to raise over £1,800 towards the cost of life-extending cancer treatment for a former student of the school.

As many people in our community and beyond will be aware, local man Josh Barnfather is aiming to raise £100,000 to fund specialist cancer treatment which, due to complications arising from a pre-existing rare medical condition, is not available through the NHS.

A final total of £1,808 was raised by the Sixth Form, thanks to the generous sponsorship of 17 students and five staff who tackled an 18 mile walk from Withernsea to Hull which largely followed the route of the old railway line.

The walk, which took place on Wednesday 17th October, was completed in around eight hours (including rest stops) with the group reaching Hull’s Paragon Interchange just before 5:45pm.

It came 54 years to the week that the final passenger service ran on the line on Monday, 19th October 1964. It’s safe to say that towards the end of the walk, many members of the group would have been delighted to hop on a train to take them the rest of the way!

However, as one student commented: ‘My feet are sore and my legs ache, but it’s nothing compared to what Josh is going through.’ – a sobering thought which gave everyone a sense of perspective and a much-needed boost to the finish.

The walk formed part of a timetabled enrichment package that is delivered to students at the school’s Sixth Form. Launched in 2017, ‘Collapsed Afternoon Wednesday’ (CAW) offers students protected time on Wednesday afternoons to engage in a range of experiences beyond the classroom to help equip them with additional life skills, experience, knowledge and values. Embedded within these sessions is an emphasis on fundraising, charity and community work.

The walk was organised by CAW course facilitators Jamie Hughes and Jon Beattie, supported by school Media Coordinator Tim Nuttall.

Mr Nuttall, who also took part in the walk, commented: ‘We are extremely proud of our students for the way in which they tackled the walk and for the amount of money they have collectively raised. The total far exceeds our early estimations and is a testament to the generosity of friends, family and members of the local community.

Having been in touch with Josh’s family, I know they are immensely grateful to our students and to all those who have kindly sponsored them in aid of his fund. We extend our thoughts and very best wishes to Josh and his family through this difficult time.’

Keith Bedson, Director of Learning: Post 16, said: ‘Young people in general can all too often get a lot of unfair criticism in the media and I'm really happy that once again the students of Withermea High School have broken that stereotype and shown they are committed to helping others.  They have raised a huge sum of money doing something really challenging.  They should be incredibly proud of themselves.’

Commenting on behalf of the family, Josh’s sisters Ellie Barnfather and Aimee Young said in a joint statement: ‘As ex-students of Withernsea High School ourselves, we can only say how grateful we are to everyone there who took part and everyone in the local community that supported them. The amount raised is fantastic and is, of course, very much appreciated by Josh and all of his family. However, equally important for us is to see how amazed Josh is and how his spirits are lifted by fundraising efforts such as this. Thank you to everyone involved.’ 

ABOVE: The group pictured at the front of school prior to departure.

ABOVE: On the right track at Winestead Ings Lane. At various points along the route, small sections of the former railway track still exist. 

ABOVE: After crossing the A1033 at the former Ottringham Baulk level crossing, the group make their way towards Ottringham.

ABOVE: The group were making good time as they headed towards Keyingham just after midday.

ABOVE: Mrs Hughes and Miss Grimmer at the former Ryehill and Burstwick station.

ABOVE: "We made it!" Tired but elated, the group reached Hull Paragon Interchange at 5.45pm. The group treated themselves to a well-deserved rest and a meal at Nandos!

ABOVE: Students make their way from Withernsea to Hull. Between Hollym and Winestead, they travelled in the school minibus to avoid a small section of the former trackbed that is no longer accessible to the public. Please note: There is no sound on the above video.

Congratulations and well done to the follow students who took part in the walk: Lucy Fincham, Alex Ogilvie, Abbie Bowden, Megan Mawson, Jessica Hall, Elisha Hudson, Kennedy Culley, Taurie Jackson, Ellie Dawson, Alice Bullock, Sam Abblett-Kemp, Jessica Mook, Elle Reid, Emma Dean, Charlotte Tune, Amy Inglis and Abby Ineson.

They were accompanied on the walk by: Mrs Hughes, Miss Grimmer, Mrs Moyse, Mrs Copeman and Mr Nuttall, with additional support from Mr Hockless who drove the school minibus as a 'support' vehicle.


• Josh Barnfather was a student of Withensea High School between September 1999 and June 2006 (Years 7 to 11 and then Sixth Form).

• Josh was born with the rare skin condition Xeroderma Pigmentosum - a genetic disorder which means his skin has a reduced ability to repair DNA damage, specifically that caused by Ultra Violet light.

• In February 2017, Josh was diagnosed with angiosarcoma - a cancer affecting the inner lining of the blood vessels.

• After months of unsuccessful surgeries, chemotherapy, trial drugs and radiotherapy targeting the lymph nodes in his neck, standardised treatments have been deemed ineffective.

• Because of his unique characteristics as a Xeroderma Pigmentosum patient, specialists believe that the immunotherapy treatment, Pembrolizumab, could extend his life. However, this is not readily available on the NHS for angiosarcoma patients and costs around £100,000 per year.

• Josh’s official ‘Just Giving’ page for all donations can be found online at:

• At the time of going to print, £51,327 of the £100,000 has been raised so far.  

Related article:
Full steam ahead for fundraising walk.