Tim Williams

Walking the entire English coast for bereaved children

Fundraising for Grief Encounter
raised of £7,000 target
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Grief Encounter

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1175837
We provide pioneering services and support to bereaved children and their families.


It was Thursday morning, I woke up and looked at the clock, it was 8.11am. This was strange as we normally left for school by 8am, we had overslept. I jumped out of bed, ran into my parents’ room where my dad was sleeping by himself. I tried shaking him playfully, I laughed as I hit him over the head with a pillow. I felt sheer terror as I noticed he wasn’t breathing. He had died in his sleep. I was 12 years old at the time. Over 20 years on, I still get reminded of that day when I see 8.11am on a clock.   

I’m not alone in losing a parent as a child. One in 29 under 16 year olds have lost their mum or dad. This equates to one child per classroom and roughly 300,000 school age children in the UK. Death is always difficult to deal with, especially in Britain where we don’t talk about our feelings easily; experiencing death as a child is life changing. When we need to feel stable, safe and loved, we learn that the people we rely on can disappear and never return. We learn true pain.


I didn’t talk about my dad’s death or that day much with anyone, let alone with a professional. Instead, I learned to suppress my feelings. I learned not to let myself get too close to anyone to protect myself from feeling that pain again.


Putting this out there now has taken a lot of self-work and I still feel uncomfortable being so emotionally vulnerable, especially in public. However I hope sharing my story will help more children feel comfortable in seeking professional support in times of grief.

I wish I had the brilliant charity Grief Encounter to talk to before I’d learned to hide my feelings away. They provide free professional and specialist bereavement support services to individuals and families. Offering a way through the anxiety, fear and isolation caused through grief. Offering one to one counselling, family fun days, a dedicated trauma team and most importantly a free and confidential national helpline called ‘grieftalk’. 

This helpline provides children with invaluable support and a trained professional to talk to, or just be there to listen. If the child is suicidal this could be the difference between life and death. This dedicated phone service is expensive to operate, it has thousands of calls every year and costs £26 per call to give the full support required. 

I want to raise money for Grief Encounter and help fund their services so young children get structured professional support to help them through the grieving process.

As I have got older I have learnt the importance of prioritising my mental health and addressing issues that had compounded after decades of suppressing feelings about my dad’s death. Hiking has become an important part of that, so to raise money for this incredible charity I’m going to walk the whole English coastline.

 It will take me roughly six months to complete if I walk 16 miles a day. 

Starting in Cumbria I’m going to walk anti-clockwise to Northumberland, a place where I spent many happy childhood summers with my dad. I will stay as close to the sea as possible, ideally on a coast path or close alternative. I will camp as much as possible and always start the next day’s walk where I finished the night before. 

I’ll do a dedicated beach clean and survey in every county I travel through to remove some of the plastic pollution on English beaches and leave the coast in a better condition than I found it. 

All donations to Grief Encounter will support children who are dealing with the death of their mum, dad, sibling or a close family relative. This donation will pay for services that will help them to be emotionally vulnerable, to process their grief and work through their pain, confusion and loneliness.  

My Instagram account  is _timwilliams_  where I update photos.

If you would like to buy me a coffee to help keep the spirits up you can here 




About the charity

Grief Encounter

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1175837
Grief Encounter aims to relieve the emotional distress of bereaved children, young people and their families. We help by developing and promoting resources and by raising public awareness of bereavement issues for children. No-one can wave a magic wand but Grief Encounter can help the journey.

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