Friends run for charity in memory of murdered Mirfield man Josh Hirst

PAYING TRIBUTE Mark Thompson is running the Great Manchester Run in memory of his best friend Josh Hirst. (d310b310)

PAYING TRIBUTE Mark Thompson is running the Great Manchester Run in memory of his best friend Josh Hirst. (d310b310)

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The best friends of a 20-year-old man who was killed outside his home are running a charity race in his memory.

Mark Thompson, Anthony Owens and A J Boardman were devastated when Josh Hirst was fatally stabbed last August.

Now they are planning to run the Great Manchester Run in his memory, with their friend Gavin Miller, and James Mason and Julie Rhodes, who they recruited on Facebook.

Mr Thompson, who lights a candle in Mr Hirst’s memory every day, said: “I’m channelling all my energy now into Josh’s memory because a lot of people knew how nice Josh was. He was a kind-hearted lad.”

The group is running the race on Sunday May 26 to raise money for the Joseph Salmon Foundation, which provides support to parents who have lost their children in Huddersfield, Halifax and Mirfield.

Charity founder Neil Salmon said: “We are very grateful that Mark and the other friends of Josh have chosen to rise money for the Trust.

“We are really touched that in what has clearly been a testing and upsetting and sad time for them, they are thinking of us and other families that are going through the same thing.”

Mr Thompson, father of Faith, Billy and 11-week-old Wraith Joshua, said Mr Hirst’s parents Terry and Julie were planning to attend the race.

Mr Hirst was attacked yards from his front door in Grove Street, Mirfield, late on August 3 last year. Last month his killers – Joe Church, 21, of Redlands Close, Mirfield, and Aaron Smith, 19, of Saville Street, Emley – were given life prison sentences for his murder.

Mr Thompson, 31, became friends with Mr Hirst through his partner Sarah Brooks, who ran the Great Manchester Run last year in memory of Mirfield footballer Ross Wood.

The 24-year-old, who completed the run while three months pregnant, said: “It’s better to put all your hurt and energy into something like this.”

Mr Thompson, of South Brook Gardens, said he planned to do the Great Manchester Run for the Joseph Salmon Trust and said he hoped to do other things in memory of Mr Hirst.

“I don’t want to set up a knife awareness campaign because I think it would be too hard for me to do it, but I want to raise money eventually for a local knife campaign,” he said.

“I’m still really cut up about it. You don’t realise how much you care about someone until something like this happens.”

A sponsor form has been left in Mick’s Fruit and Veg in Huddersfield Road for anyone who wants to support Mr Thompson and his friends. Alternatively you make a donation by texting ‘JFJH21 £5’ to 70070.