Tributes to "unique" charity founder who paved way for Rotherham kids to explore Peak District

Tributes to "unique" charity founder who paved way for Rotherham kids to explore Peak District

By Michael Upton | 26/05/2022

Tributes to 'unique' charity founder who paved way for Rotherham kids to explore Peak District
Joe Walker

A CHARITY founder who helped hundreds of young people to make the most of the great outdoors was hailed as “unique” following his death aged 75.

As vice-chair of the Crookstone Adventure Trust, Joe Walker’s efforts paved the way for children from Rotherham to go on outdoor pursuit trips.

Hailed as a tireless volunteer by the trust’s chair, Dave Chester, Mr Walker also organised visits for children from the Chernobyl disaster zone and founded his own charity with friend Danny Thompson to support disabled kids in Romania.

His death came just a month after that of former Crookstone secretary Tony Taylor, who is credited with helping hundreds of young people in Rotherham complete their Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Mr Walker was a site manager for Frank Haslam Milan, later Keepmoat Holdings, and used his building skills to transform and maintain buildings as diverse as a 400-year-old Peak District barn and orphanages in Romania.

His work with Rotherham-based Crookstone spanned 33 years and saw him and friend Bob Marshall renovating Crookstone Barn on Kinder Scout from a dilapidated state to a fully-equpped centre accommodating more than 20 people, which is used as a base for adventure trips.

Dave said: “Joe was as comitted to the charity after 33 years as he was at his first involvement.

“He did everything from building maintenance and facilitating groups’ stays, to fund-raising organising visits for many youngsters from abroad.

“He was instrumental in forging partnerships between the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline Groups in the UK and Crookstone and, up until the pandemic, such groups used the barn annually for free stays as part of their visits to this country.

“Joe, along with his friends, visited Belarus to cement relationships with people there whose children still suffer from the effects of that nuclear disaster.

“He was also one of the first volunteers to go to Romania after the revolution in 1989 and has since visited annually to carry out repairs to orphanages, schools and other community facilities, making many friends across the country.

“In 2015, Joe and Danny Thompson, formed their own charity, People in Need Worldwide, to raise funds to continue their work in Romania in providing specialist sensory rooms in schools and hospitals for severly disabled young people.

“So far, seven such rooms have been built and another one is planned for building in the UK.”

Mr Walker also offered his time as a volunteer driver Rotherham Hospice and towed Santa’s sleigh on occasions for Rotherham Sitwell Rotary Club and Rotherham Round Table.

He was a long-standing member of Rotary and received the Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of the charity’s work in Romania and the UK
He died in Rotherham Hospital on May 9.

Dave added: “Enthusiastic and tireless, Joe motivated the people around him and led by example.

“His loss will be felt greatly by his family and those who had the privilege to be involved with him.”

Donations in Mr Walker’s memory can be made at http://peopleinneedworldwide.com/.

His funeral will be held at 2.45pm on Tuesday at Rotherham Crematorium.

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