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Hackney 11-year-old walks from Italy to Southborough Road for charity

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:06 24 September 2020

The eleven-year-old made many friends along the way, stopping at pizzerias to eat and play football. Picture: Phil Cox

The eleven-year-old made many friends along the way, stopping at pizzerias to eat and play football. Picture: Phil Cox

Phil Cox

A Hackney eleven year old received a warm welcome home after walking almost 3,000 kilometres to see his grandmother.

Romeo travelled about 2800 kilometres by foot, boat and bike. Picture: Phil CoxRomeo travelled about 2800 kilometres by foot, boat and bike. Picture: Phil Cox

Romeo Cox and his father, Phil Cox, walked all the way from Sicily in Italy where he now lives, back to his former home on Southborough Road, Hackney to raise money for refugee charity REACT.

The adventure involved the pair sleeping in churches, hostels and camping under the stars - some kind people even offered their homes to the travellers.

Romeo Cox at his home coming on Southborough Road. Picture: Naglis ZelvysRomeo Cox at his home coming on Southborough Road. Picture: Naglis Zelvys

But despite the exciting journey which included a boat journeys,cycling and a donkey, Romeo was happy to return to Hackney saying it is “easy” to walk thousands of kilometres when heading home: “I grew up in the best street in the world. Southborough Road! It is always home for me and my neighbours are like family.”

READ MORE: Hackney friends prepare to cycle hundreds of kilometres across country for charity

Romeo said he asked his parents 50 times before they agreed he could walk to see his granny in the UK, accompanied by his father and following Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. Picture: Phil CoxRomeo said he asked his parents 50 times before they agreed he could walk to see his granny in the UK, accompanied by his father and following Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. Picture: Phil Cox

Romeo says he made many friends along the way, he visited child migrant centres and met refugees.

Romeo’s mother Giovanna Stopponi runs the charity REACT and Romeo’s fundraiser has already raised more than £11,000 to help support the organisations drop in and community centre in Palermo, Sicily.

Romeo met a refugee who was unable to travel to the UK where his brother lives. Picture: Phil CoxRomeo met a refugee who was unable to travel to the UK where his brother lives. Picture: Phil Cox

Money raised by his fundraiser will be used to buy 50 tablets and wifi connection for refugee and local disadvantaged kids to use and share. These kids have became Romeo’s friends and helped him when he first moved to Italy and did not speak the language.

“I know that some kids my age and older here in Palermo have missed out on all the study during lock-down because they cannot get online for the lessons and already find themselves excluded and missing out. Being able to learn online and have digital learning is important,” Romeo said.

Romeo at a Care4Calais centre, the non-profit helps refugees from war-torn countries stranded less than 30 miles from British shores. Picture: Phil CoxRomeo at a Care4Calais centre, the non-profit helps refugees from war-torn countries stranded less than 30 miles from British shores. Picture: Phil Cox

READ MORE: Local heroes: Inspired by Captain Tom Moore Hackney 7 year-old cycles 100 miles for charity

Phillip Barrass, head of Southborough Road residents association and organiser of Romeo’s home coming added: “Phil and Romeo’s neighbours rallied, suitably separated and masked, to mark their great home-coming. A few of us walked the last few miles from Trafalgar Square with them, and my legs still ache from that very tough eight kilometres.

Romeo and his father must first quarantine for two weeks before he can see his grandmother. Picture: Phil CoxRomeo and his father must first quarantine for two weeks before he can see his grandmother. Picture: Phil Cox

“We shared trifle, cake and Prosecco and listened respectfully as Romeo told us all why he had done it, then locked the two of them securely in their house to begin their quarantine.”

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/romeosbigjourney.

A donkey joined the father and son duo helping them carry supplies for their trip. Picture: Phil CoxA donkey joined the father and son duo helping them carry supplies for their trip. Picture: Phil Cox

Follow his story on facebook @RomeosBigJourney and instagram @romeos_big_journey-home

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Though the pair mostly slept in churches, conventst and hostels, one night they slept under a tree in the wild. Picture: Phil CoxThough the pair mostly slept in churches, conventst and hostels, one night they slept under a tree in the wild. Picture: Phil Cox

Romeo was 10 when he started his big adventure which took him and his dad up mountains and on sail boats, across France and the English channel. Picture: Phil CoxRomeo was 10 when he started his big adventure which took him and his dad up mountains and on sail boats, across France and the English channel. Picture: Phil Cox


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