SHE is determined to bring brightness to the lives of disabled children – despite suffering her own personal tragedy just months ago.
Michelle Barfoot will have more motivation than most as she climbs Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, later this year.
The 43-year-old’s husband, Tim, was killed in a motorbike crash in Waltham Chase in January – less than five months after the pair married in Sri Lanka.
Since then the mum of four, from Shakespeare Road in Eastleigh, has decided she wants to do something to help disabled children.
Michelle and husband Tim, who was killed in a motorbike crash in January
Her own son Harry, 9, is severely autistic and she gave up her office job to care for him while another of her children is profoundly disabled and requires full-time care away from home.
Now she wants to help the Caudwell Children charity that provided therapies and treatments when Harry was younger.
In the weeks after Tim’s death, Michelle focused on caring for her son. Then she joked to a friend that she felt she could climb Kilimanjaro – and decided to act on her words and raise funds for the charity in the process.
She told her story on World Autism Awareness Day yesterday.
Describing the harrowing day she learned her husband had been killed, she said: “It had been raining for quite a long time and we were all getting a bit of cabin fever. January 2 was a sunny morning, though, and Tim decided to take his bike out. He was going to meet us in the park later for lunch – but he never arrived.
“I tried ringing him but he didn’t answer. I was not that worried because he would often bump into people he knew and was a bit of a social butterfly.
“I thought to myself that he would not be long. I had been home half an hour and the police arrived. It’s all a blur. People say you see your life flash before your eyes – it was surreal and it still feels surreal. At first I was numb but you have to get up and get on.
“I was like a robot. My alarm would go off in the morning and I would get up and do things and just put one foot in front of the other. I’m not the type of person to give up.”
As reported at the time, Tim, 41, died after his bike was in collision with a silver BMW.
In the days that followed, floral tributes were tied to the railings of a nearby bridge.
Hundreds packed out a church in Bishop’s Waltham for Tim’s funeral on January 27, exactly five months after the pair were married.
Michelle is climbing Kilimanjaro in September
Michelle believes that the money that she raises, to help other children like Harry, will be a lasting legacy to Tim.
“He was a gentle giant with a heart of gold. Nobody had a bad word to say about him. He would work all over the world as a rigger, but always came home. People knew him well as he had an infectious smile. He was a very happy man, lovely and kind. Tim quickly understood Harry’s autistic condition and he embraced the challenges of bringing up a child with autistic sprctrum disorder.
“He was set to adopt Harry, so I know that he would have been extremely proud of what I’m doing and the fact that my efforts will raise awareness of the condition. By improving the lives of disabled children Tim’s memory will live on.”
Michelle will attempt to climb Kilimanjaro from September 12 to 21, and is appealing for sponsors.
- To sponsor Michelle visit justgiving.com/Michelle-Barfoot