“In my weakest moments, he’d whisper ‘Go on, grandpa, you got this.’” How Suffolk man’s epic Amazon adventure helped him find peace after baby grandson’s death

A bereaved grandad will pay for us to deliver our vital service across Suffolk and East Essex this Friday (28 May), on what would have been his grandson’s third birthday, having completed a 143-mile (230km) ultra-marathon through the Amazon jungle of South America.

The extraordinary efforts of Nick Edwards, inspired by and in memory of Noah Finnerty, who sadly died a week shy of six months in November 2018, raised £7,100.

Noah was born, to Nick’s step-daughter Lucy Holloway and son-in-law Stuart Finnerty, from Framlingham, with a rare genetic liver disorder.

Nick, 61, who lives in the village of Laxfield, recalled: “My initial thoughts when first told of Noah’s condition were the doctors would make him better, he would be healed, we’d all get through this and have a normal, healthy, little grandson. The idea of him not being healed never entered my mind.

“Noah was the most beautiful little chap who seemed to me to have very wise eyes. When he looked at me, I felt he was able to look inside my soul and see what I was thinking. He endured his suffering with a quiet and passive strength that was quite remarkable and unforgettable.”

When it became clear doctors could do no more for Noah the family went to The Treehouse, EACH’s hospice in Ipswich, and spent their final six days together.

Nick said: “There is never enough praise, commendation or words I can say about EACH and the support their team extended to our family following the days after Noah’s passing. It is truly an amazing resource, beyond exceptional and we’ll be forever grateful and in their debt.”

Struck with grief and desperate to make sense of the “deepest heart-breaking grief I’ve ever felt”, Nick set about looking for the toughest physical and mental challenge he could find, and in June 2019 he set off for Peru.

“My hope was within that suffering of endurance I’d find a deeper profound meaning,” he said. “The Amazon didn’t disappoint. Throughout the extreme highs and lows of that effort I sensed and felt Noah’s presence. I saw him in a thousand different places, through the birds, the rivers, the trees and the butterflies. At night I heard him through an orchestra of sounds coming from within the jungle, buzzing with life, Noah’s energy, urging me onwards. Without Noah in my heart I know I certainly wouldn’t have completed it. In my weakest moments, he’d whisper ‘Go on, grandpa, you got this.’ Out of the 50 starters, only 19 competitors finished and we came an honourable 15th place.”

Nick crossed the finishing line in 47 hours and 29 minutes. He said the experience had a lasting impact on him.

“I came to realise and truly believe the spirit and energy of Noah’s true essence is still around and within me, wherever I am. I see and feel him now, when I look down my garden and see new leaves upon the trees in spring, a family of squirrels playing or a clutch of different birds at our feeding stations, or even the occasional muntjac that wanders across our lawn. I know he’s a part of that.

“I miss Noah terribly, think of him constantly and shed tears often when I hear his name, but I no longer grieve for him. I am at peace and I truly believe, with all my heart, Noah is, too. Life moves on and, for me, it’s a much richer place for having had him in it.”

It is with great pride Nick is now able to pay for a day of care and support from EACH across Suffolk and East Essex.

“Noah’s passing has shown me that no-one, regardless of income or race, is beyond life’s tragic events. To have, in some small way, helped others who are dealing with these life-changing events, albeit for a day, is gratifying. It is also insightful as to the energy required to keep these facilities running so that they can continue to do their amazing work.”

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