Couple walks from Fratton Park to Amex in memory of dear friend

A couple from Purbrook have walked more than 50 miles, raising £1,500 in memory of their dear friend Dave Devonport, who lived in Southwick.

Dave and Tim Purkis knew each other from the age of two and ended up marrying two sisters. “We were all very close and we spent a lot of time together,” says Tim’s wife, Karen. “Dave is very sorely missed by the whole family.”

Train driver Dave, a lifelong and devoted Portsmouth FC fan, became an Albion season ticket-holder when he moved to West Sussex. On the day of his funeral, Tim decided he wanted to do something in memory of his close friend. As football had been such an important part of Dave’s life, they decided to walk between his teams’ grounds – Fratton Park and the Amex – raising money for St Barnabas House, the hospice that cared for him.

When Dave was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2017, he was initially given six months to live. “Lynne and Dave said it was like an axe over their head,” says Karen. “They weren’t living, they were just waiting for their time to be up. Then St Barnabas got in touch. They helped him with financial advice, he went to classes, had foot massages and went for days out.

“Dave lived for another six years in the end and St Barnabas was there all the way through his journey. The hospice gave him the advice and confidence he needed to push himself and achieve the things he wanted to do. We even went to Rome, where Tim and Dave wore their Brighton and Pompey shirts to a football match, and we did the same in Marseille.

“St Barnabas provided excellent palliative care at home for Dave and his family in his last days and we can’t thank them enough. We hope that they money we have raised will help the hospice to support more families.”

Karen and Tim have been overwhelmed by the generosity they have encountered. “We’ve had donations from football fans we have never met,” says Karen. “Even from people we met on the way. People have been extremely kind.”

On the final day, family and friends joined Karen and Tim for the final stretch. “It was quite emotional, that final walk,” says Karen. “We were all reflecting on Dave and his life, thinking that he’d be looking down on us saying we’re bloody idiots for doing it, but also feeling very proud.

“I think it helped all of us,” she adds. “It gave Tim and I a lot of time to talk, just the two of us. And when everyone joined us for those final few miles it was a fitting tribute to a lovely man.”