A GROUP of friends are preparing to walk almost 40 miles between two football stadiums in memory of a former Basingstoke Gazette sports reporter.

John Boyman, who was a reporter at the Gazette for more than a decade between 2004 and 2015, died of bowel cancer on September 30, 2021, aged 39.

READ MORE: Former Gazette sports reporter dies of cancer aged 39

The father-of-two worked for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the time of his death, as head of public relations.

To mark what would have been John’s 40th birthday, seven of his friends will walk almost 40 miles between Chelsea and Aldershot football stadiums to raise money for two charities.

John was a huge football fan and often took his children to watch matches at Aldershot.

Chris Baker, one of those taking part in the fundraising walk on August 20, said: “At the end of last year, shortly after John died, we thought about planning something to do near what would have been his birthday and the anniversary of his death.

“We’re walking between the two stadiums as both places were important to John and the distance is around 39 miles, so we’re thinking of posting a photo of John at each mile of him at the different ages of his life, so he ages with us as we walk.”

Chris, 39, a primary school teacher who lives in Switzerland, knew John since they attended primary school together in Farnham.

He said John’s death last year came as a shock, adding: “It was so quick and brutal. I live overseas and didn’t get a chance to see him after he was diagnosed. It was so brutal and felt too quick. We felt like we needed to do something to keep his memory alive.”

The group plan to start the walk from Chelsea Football Club’s ground at Stamford Bridge in London before reaching Aldershot Recreation Ground in time for the 3pm kick-off against Bromley, where the friends will watch the match.

Chris said: “John would probably say it’s a crazy idea. He was such a unique guy.”

The friends are raising money for Cancer Research UK’s Bobby Moore Fund and Bucket List Wishes, a charity which arranged a special day for John, his wife Helen, and their two sons Zac and Thom before he died.

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