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Run for Joel: Hundreds turn out in Sandwell to raise money for terror victims - with PICTURES and VIDEO

By Richard Guttridge | Sandwell | News | Published:

Hundreds of runners turned out for a celebration remembering the lives of three members of a Black Country family who were killed in the Tunisia beach terror attack.

Crowds turn out at the run. Inset: Joel Richards

It was ready, set, go at 10am at Sandwell Valley Country Park where around 1,000 people got into their running shoes to raise funds for Smile for Joel, the charity set up by the family of victims Joel Richards, Adrian Evans and Patrick Evans.

It was an an emotional day for Suzy Evans, from Wednesbury, who lost her son, brother and father in the 2015 attack, and her son Owen, who survived the atrocity, after so much hard work in making the event possible.

Run for Joel featured two competitive races, one 5km and the other 3km, while there was also a fun run for the youngsters.

Run for Joel 2017

Thousands of pounds were raised for the charity, which supports other victims of terror attacks, but the final total is not yet known. It followed last year's event that raised £27,000.

Friends and family rallied round, with one couple, Adam and Trudy Russell, from Wednesbury, even cutting short their honeymoon in Ibiza so they could make it.

Families of other victims, as well as survivors, also attended the event.

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Joel, who was 19, was a talented football referee and Suzy said they day was what he was all about. His uncle Adrian, 49, a Sandwell Council worker from Bilston, and grandfather Patrick, 78, died alongside him.

Suzy said: "It's absolutely amazing. Thank goodness the rain stopped off.

"I got upset this morning. I was overwhelmed with everything and the reason we're doing it. It all gets upsetting.

"This is what Joel would have been doing if he had been lucky enough to survive the attack, raising money for families affected.

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"I'm just doing what he would have been doing."

Owen, 18, who is preparing to go to Worcester University, where his brother studied, took part in both the 5km and 3km runs.

He said of the day: "It's really touching and humbling.

"It's bittersweet. We would rather not be doing this kind of thing but we are in this situation.

"The community of Sandwell, Walsall and that area have shown so much support and I hope that stays."

Owen said there was a feeling of togetherness among the families who had lost loved ones.

He added: "We're the only people who understand. We have become quite close-knit, it's a bit of a support network."

Summing up his feelings two years on from having his family torn apart, he said: "I'm off to uni in a few weeks. I'm going to get by as much I can."

Reporter Richard Guttridge was at the run this morning:

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
@RichG_star

Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton

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