WHEN Angela Evans was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she had to come to terms with the fact she would no longer be able to fulfil her dreams of travelling the world.
But Angela, who lost her long battle with the disease aged 44, refused to let her fun-loving spirit die.
Determined to have an ongoing presence in her friends’ lives, she left a teddy bear with a handwritten note on a table at her own funeral.
It read: “To all my friends present, this is Fudge.
“Would you please take him with you on your adventures, take photos of him enjoying himself and publicise the photos to one another.
"This may help you to remember me and keep you all in touch with each other, love Angie.”
Today, seven years later, the bear nicknamed Fudgemeister lives with retired police officer and endurance sport enthusiast Gary Jones nicknamed Actionman – and there’s no doubting they have made Angie proud.
Fresh-faced Fudge left at Angie's funeral
From climbing the world’s highest mountains and jumping out of planes to walking hundreds of miles, there isn’t much the duo haven’t faced – and they have the selfies to prove it.
Grandad-of-one Gary, 50, who played sport and completed endurance events throughout his career, says: “Fudge was sat there at our dear friend Angie’s celebration of life on November 25 2007 with a little bow tie on sitting with the note. I saw him and I thought ‘that’s just typical of her’.
“Angie was a butterfly and had a heart of gold. She would always try to mould people together at any social function, so it was a lovely idea.
Fudge and Gary boarding the Dakota for a para drop over Ginkelse Heide to re-enact Operation Market Garden
“Ever since, there has been no looking back and Fudgemeister is part of the team, hooked on adventure.
Fudge and Actionman kayaking in Loch Ness, Scotland
“With the exception of the odd holiday with Tina Maton and a spot of line dancing now and again, he lives with me and accompanies me on all sorts of adventures all round the world.
“I couldn’t list all the stuff he does!
Fudge is a regular face on the charity circuit and has helped raise thousands.”
Fudge getting his diving qualifications in Egypt
The cuddly companion’s exploits started with getting his dive qualifications in Egypt. Together they have completed challenges around the clock despite suffering exhaustion and injuries including broken bones.
Inseparable, Gary, a former Toynbee School pupil from Bishopstoke, admits Fudgemeister, who carries a Gurkha knife, a Commander knife, a Browning pistol strapped to his belt as well as dog tags detailing his name, address and reward if lost, is always clipped onto him wherever he goes so he doesn’t lose him.
And though their relationship is often the centre of jokes, the message behind the bear is a serious one.
Preparing for a bungee jump in New Zealand...
“I get a lot of people say ‘what’s the story with the bear then? Do you take him to bed with you?’
“But as the years have passed he has come to represent all those friends who are no longer with us, especially those whose lives have been prematurely cut short owing to a cruel twist of fate, Teresa, Paul, Tony, Curtis and of course Angie.
“Angie’s catchphrase was always ‘Carpe Diem’, Latin for seize the day and whilst he can, Fudgemeister marches on.
Fudge and Gary leading blind veteran Rifleman Paul Jacobs across the Hardangervidda in Nrway to follow in the footsteps of the Telemark Heroes
“A quote that sums it up is by Robert H Smith: ‘The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own.
"Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”
Fudge with his friends Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson MBE, who lost both his legs and suffered more than 40 injuries in a bomb attack and former Army reservist Jamie Hull who suffered life changing burns when his aircraft caught fire, pictured at a Pilgrim Bandits charity black tie function
SOME of Fudge’s many exploits include...
- Walked the entire 634 mile South West Coast Path
- Dorset Heart Foundation bike rides
- Got his Para wings in Holland, and twice jumped from the Dakotas over Arnhem
- Completed the South West Triple award with the Long Distance Walking Association (three self navigation 100km routes in 24 hours)
- Re-enacted Operation Frankton (Cockleshell Heroes) – Kayaking from Bay of Biscay along the Gironde river to Bordeaux including the 105 Escape and Evasion route on foot to Ruffec
- Edinburgh marathon l Bungee Jumping in New Zealand
- Ascended Everest Base Camp (Nepal)
- Ascended Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa)
- Kayaked the Caledonian Canal from Fort William to Inverness
- Helped to guide Rifleman Paul Jacobs, blinded in Afghanistan, across the Hardangervidda in Norway to reenact Operation Grouse (Telemark Heroes)
- Ascended Mount Elbrus (Russia)
- ...and just completed the fifth tour of the Four Days Marches in Nijmegen, Holland.
FUDGE and Gary joined forces with another bear Snitch and police officer Johannes Oosthuizen on their latest mission walking 160km in four days in Nijmegen, Holland.
They completed the notorious Four Day March in 36 degree heat.
Snitch travels in memory of Darren Mitchell, pictured below, a keen motocross rider, water skier, fisherman and helicopter pilot from South Africa, who lost his fight with testicular cancer on April 27 age 23.
Johannes, who works for Dorset police, is good friends with Darren’s parents Gary and Debbie and wanted to raise money in his honour.
He said: “I was glad to finish the 160km and use those four days to remind me and others of the brave, courageous struggle Darren put up in those last three years of his life. It was the least I can do.”