Video: Dereham teen’s Channel swim for charity which helped him

Ria and Riley Cork are swimming the channel in July to raise funds for Nelson's Journey. Picture: Ian Burt Ria and Riley Cork are swimming the channel in July to raise funds for Nelson's Journey. Picture: Ian Burt

Saturday, April 26, 2014
9:26 AM

A teenager will be joined by his mum when he faces a gruelling swim across the Channel to raise funds for the charity which helped him cope when his dad died.

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Ria and Riley Cork are swimming the channel in July to raise funds for Nelson's Journey. Picture: Ian BurtRia and Riley Cork are swimming the channel in July to raise funds for Nelson's Journey. Picture: Ian Burt

Sixteen-year-old Riley and mum Ria Cork, 43, will take the plunge to raise cash for Nelson’s Journey, which supports bereaved children and young people.

Riley turned to the charity after dad Neil Cork, a professional development manager for Norwich Union, died, aged 40, after a brain haemorrhage in July 2007.

“When I was about 11 I went on an activity camp where they gave me support after my dad died. They taught me techniques and tried to get back me into a normal routine. It was great,” the Wymondham College boarder said.

Mrs Cork, who had been married to Neil for 13 years, said the loss turned their “whole life upside down”. “He was really fit and healthy – he was even a black belt,” she said. “But he had a brain haemorrhage overnight and we were thrown into a whirlwind of trying to resuscitate him.”

"When I was about 11, I went on an activity camp where they gave me support after my dad died... It was great"

Riley Cork

Despite their efforts, Neil died hours later.

Mrs Cork, who lives in Beetley near Dereham, said the tragedy taught her it is important to do things which “remind you that you are alive”, and added that the impact Neil’s death had on their son was visible.

“It has made Riley grow up quickly,” she said. “He is a 16-year-old boy with a 30-year-old mind – very pragmatic about life. We are also incredibly close – we like each other’s company and we get on as friends rather than mum and son.”

Mrs Cork, who works at Aviva, thinks her son will work with children who have been bereaved when he is older. For now, the duo are focused on raising funds to help others.

When his mum suggested the idea, Riley said he was “kind of up for it” but terrified at the same time.

He added that although his dad would have been proud, he probably would have been watching from somewhere dry.

“He would probably think I was insane – swimming was never his thing. I could swim faster than him from the age of seven. I do think he would be proud that we are doing something that is a bit extreme, though,” he added.

To sponsor Riley and Ria, visit http://www.justgiving.com/corkchannelswim

Are you doing something out of the ordinary for charity? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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