Camp out fundraiser Max receives gift from fallen soldier's family

Max Woosey from Braunton with the specialist sleeping bag donated by the family of fallen soldier Private Joe Berry

Max Woosey from Braunton with the specialist sleeping bag donated by the family of fallen soldier Private Joe Berry - Credit: NDH

A Braunton boy who has raised more than £100,000 for charity by camping out in his garden since March has received a poignant donation from the mother of a fallen soldier to help him continue through the winter. 

Max Woosey’s story gained worldwide attention after the 11-year-old decided to sleep under canvas to raise money for North Devon Hospice during the first coronavirus lockdown, before going on to pledge to camp out for a whole year. 

His dedicated touched the heart of Lisa Snow from Cheshire, whose son tragically died while serving with the army in Afghanistan earlier in 2020. 

Lisa’s son, Private Joe Berry, was also a camping fanatic and passionate about supporting charities, so she decided it would be fitting to donate his specialist winter sleeping bag to Max, to help him as the nights turn colder. 

Private Joe Berry pictured in February 2020, shortly before he lost his life

Private Joe Berry pictured in February 2020, shortly before he lost his life - Credit: Courtesy of the family

She said: “I first saw Max’s story on the national news, and thought it was amazing what this young lad was doing to help other people.  

“It instantly reminded me of Joe. When he was a young lad this was exactly the sort of thing he would do. He was also a Scout, just like Max, and loved camping out and having adventures.  

“Joe was also always raising money for charity too. There were so many similarities that I felt it would be nice to reach out and offer some help with winter on the way. 

Joe Berry's mum Lisa Snow with his sleeping she donated to Max Woosey

Joe Berry's mum Lisa Snow with his sleeping she donated to Max Woosey for his sponsored camp out in Braunton - Credit: Contributed

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“I straight away thought of Joe’s camping gear, which I had up in the loft. It was returned to me by the army after he died, and I had wondered what I would do with it. Joe would definitely want to see it go to a good home, and he’d be thrilled to help Max with his fundraising adventure.” 

Like Max Woosey, Joe Berry was keen to raise money for charities and is pictured here as a boy raising money for Help for Heroes 

Like Max Woosey, Joe Berry was keen to raise money for charities and is pictured here as a boy raising money for Help for Heroes - Credit: Courtesy of family

Private Joseph Berry had joined the army aged 18, serving as a paratrooper in 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. He was 21-years-old when he died on February 22, 2020, just two weeks before he was due to return home from Afghanistan. 

Lisa said: “We were so proud of him because he worked so hard to get his physical strength and fitness up. It had been his dream to join the paras, and he travelled the world with the regiment.  

“When he died, I got so many letters from his friends and colleagues saying how popular he was, and each letter had such lovely and funny stories about him.  

“One of my concerns was that the army would change the lovely lad that I’d always known, but it’s nice to see that he hadn’t changed at all, and that everyone else saw the same caring, thoughtful Joe we all knew. 

“He’d be delighted to help young Max with his adventure. Joe was always putting other people first and wanted to do good things in the community.  

“What Max is doing is just amazing, so Joe would certainly approve. I actually think they would have got along very well.” 

Joe berry wild camping when he was younger

Joe berry wild camping when he was younger - Credit: Contributed

The donation is especially poignant and appreciated by the Wooseys as they are also a military family, with Max’s dad serving in the Royal Marines. 

Major Mark Woosey, based at RMB Chivenor, said: “It’s lovely that the military family can come together in this way and celebrate life. A great thread of scouting, military and service to the community.” 

Rachael Woosey, Max’s mum, added, “This is such an unbelievably kind gift to Max. Having a 21-year-old myself I cannot imagine the grief and pain that Lisa and her family have gone through. I think it is such an honour for Max to help keep Joe’s spirit alive in this way.” 

The sponsored camp out started as a show of solidarity at the beginning of lockdown in March.  

Max Woosey has raised more than £100,000 since pledging to camp out in his garden for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic - now approaching a whole year

Max Woosey has raised more than £100,000 since pledging to camp out in his garden for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic - now approaching a whole year - Credit: Woosey family

Max vowed to camp out in the back garden until it was all over, although few could have predicted how long the Covid-19 saga would become. Nevertheless, he has stuck steadfastly to his promise and is now determined to complete a full year of sleeping under canvas in his garden. 

He chose to raise money for North Devon Hospice after the charity had cared for family friend and neighbour Rick Abbott.  

The Woosey family were also instrumental in his care and were grateful for the help of the hospice, which allowed Rick to stay at home in his final days.  

Indeed, it was Rick, himself a great explorer, who gave Max his trusty tent not long before he died, telling him to go and have an adventure with it. 

Max said: “I feel so happy that I remind Lisa of Joe. I am so proud to say that I will be using a soldier’s sleeping bag, because I’m just a boy sleeping in a tent whilst he was brave and served his country.” 

You can still sponsor Max by going to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/max-woosey1  

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