Hundreds turn out for second annual fundraising run

Hundreds of runners turned out for a celebration remembering the lives of three members of a Black Country family who were killed in the Tunisia beach terror attack.

Held at Sandwell Valley Country Park, the event raised funds for 'Smile for Joel', the charity set up by the family of victims Joel Richards, Adrian Evans and Patrick Evans.

It was an an emotional day for Suzy Evans, from Wednesbury, who lost her son, brother and father in the 2015 attack and arranged the event alongside her younger son, Owen, who survived the atrocity. Run for Joel featured two competitive races, one 5km and the other 3km, while there was also a fun run for the youngsters

Thousands of pounds were raised for the charity, which supports other victims of terror attacks, following the 2016 run, which raised £27,000.

Friends and family rallied round, with one couple, Adam and Trudy Russell, from Wednesbury, even cutting short their honeymoon in Ibiza so they could make it. Families of other victims, as well as survivors, also attended the event.

Joel, who was 19, was a talented football referee. His 78-year-old Grandfather, Patrick, and his 49-year-old uncle, Adrian, died alongside him. Speaking to the Express and Star, Suzy said:

"It's absolutely amazing. I got upset this morning - I was overwhelmed with everything and the reason we're doing it.

"This is what Joel would have been doing if he had been lucky enough to survive the attack, raising money for families affected. I'm just doing what he would have been doing."

Owen, 18, who is preparing to go to Worcester University, where his brother studied, took part in both the 5km and 3km runs. He said of the day:

"It's really touching and humbling. It's bittersweet - we would rather not be doing this kind of thing but we are in this situation. The community of Sandwell, Walsall and that area have shown so much support and I hope that stays."

"We're the only people who understand. We have become quite close-knit, it's a bit of a support network."

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