Burnley driving instructor will face tough challenge in honour of son who died before he got the chance

Barry Griffiths is preparing to trek the Great Wall of China with his wife Caroline.
Barry Griffiths is preparing to trek the Great Wall of China with his wife Caroline.

A well known driving instructor from Burnley will take on a challenge his son was planning to tackle before his sudden and tragic death in August.

Barry Griffiths is preparing to walk the Great Wall of China with his wife Caroline in September, 2020.

Barry's son Rodney had planned to trek the Great Wall of China before his untimely death at the age of 42 earlier this year.

Barry's son Rodney had planned to trek the Great Wall of China before his untimely death at the age of 42 earlier this year.

Caroline signed up for the challenge, which is being run by Pendleside Hospice, as soon as she heard about it.

Concerned that he didn't want her going alone, Barry asked his son Rodney, a former soldier, if he would accompany his stepmum.

A sports fan and lover of the outdoors Rodney didn't hesitate to say 'yes', but tragedy struck in August when he died after suffering a sudden heart attack at the age of 42, leaving his family devastated.

Caroline said: "Barry said he wanted to do the walk in memory of Rodney.

"Rodney was really excited about doing the walk, it was something he was looking forward to so Barry will be doing it in his place to honour him and he will be with us in spirit."

Rodney had only recently returned to his home in Burnley, where he grew up, with his wife Lorraine and their 15-year-old daughter Ellie-Rose after a career spanning 21 years in the armed forces.

Affectionately known as 'Griff,' Rodney served with the Third Battalion parachute regiment and he rose to the rank of colour sergeant.

Barry, who will be 65 next month, has recently retired after running his own business The Brunlea Driving School for many years. Caroline, who is 56, is a Slimming World consultant with several classes in Burnley.

Married for 20 years, the couple are preparing to start work on their fitness programme to prepare them for the challenge called the Great Wall of China Discovery Trek.

Caroline added: "For me this is something I have always fancied doing as I love walking and trekking but it will take Barry way out of his comfort zone."

The pair are among 19 who have signed up to trek 35km along the wall which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The aim is to raise as much money as possible for the hospice and Barry and Caroline have already started with a series of raffles and collections.

And in March the couple will host a 'Gingo' night at Burnley Football Club combining the delights of gin and bingo.

They are also planning to wear special 'memory' t shirts for the walk and people are invited to have a name of their loved ones on the tops in return for a donation to the hospice.

And, of course, Rodney's name will be at the top of the list.

Anyone who would like to make a donation or get more information about the challenge and fundraising events is asked to email Caroline at carolineU2@hotmail.com