03:03AM, Tuesday 29 July 2014
When Jonny Ledge joked with his beloved stepdad about having an 'awesome' 30th birthday party he never guessed the big day would be shaped by tragedy.
Jonny's stepdad Chris Chappell, of Mansell Close, Dedworth, was a healthy and youthful looking 67-year-old who travelled the world building stages for exhibitions.
Last year he suddenly developed a limp and within nine weeks of being diagnosed with motor neurone disease he died - leaving his wife Debbie, Jonny, and their whole family devastated.
Jonny, who lives in Choseley Road, Knowl Hill said: "To begin with I did not want to celebrate my 30th birthday at all after joking with my old man about it being 'awesome'."
Then he decided to make it a fundraising event that would raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association in Chris' memory.
There is a large field behind the Royal Oak pub on Knowl Hill Common and in just a few weeks Jonny had organised an event that attracted 250 people and raised £2,300 on Saturday, July 19.
Friends rallied round, businesses made donations - including a marquee measuring 10m by 6m. There were singers, DJs, face painting, a merry go round, raffle prizes.
At 4pm helium balloons were released to the accompaniment of Gary Barlow's Let Me Go.
Jonny said: "Even White Waltham Airfield was supportive when I checked with them that it was all right to let off the balloons. People who could not make the event were still insisting on giving me money next day."
He said: "In the end I did do something awesome on my birthday. A lot of people say I did the old man proud. The day went so quick for me. But I had a lump in my throat thinking none of it would bring him back."
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