After many years, a new footpath in memory of much-loved youngster is taking shape between Lubenham to Harborough

The family have fought day in day out to build the new trail since their 13-year-old son Adam died as he biked to school in Market Harborough in September 2006

Friday, 11th June 2021, 4:24 pm
The AdamSmile footpath is now finally taking shape.
The AdamSmile footpath is now finally taking shape.

A tragic youngster’s family are thrilled after their dream to set up a new footpath from Lubenham to Market Harborough in his memory is finally coming true after 15 years.

David Mugridge, 58, and his wife Kate, 54, are ecstatic after winning their titanic battle to create and complete the AdamSmile route.

The courageous couple have fought day in day out to build the new trail since their much-loved 13-year-old son Adam died as he biked to school in Market Harborough in September 2006.

The AdamSmile footpath is now finally taking shape.

David, Kate and their daughter Lucie, 25, are now celebrating victory after the picturesque route has been dramatically upgraded and new gates erected on the Northamptonshire side of the border.

“We are just over the moon that we are finally getting there after all this time, so many long years.

“We got the Leicestershire stretch of our very own AdamSmile path done earlier this year,” elated David told the Harborough Mail.

“That really did put a smile on all our faces.

The AdamSmile footpath is now finally taking shape.

“So now to get this work carried out by the Northamptonshire council making this trail viable and walkable all the way from Lubenham to Market Harborough is just incredible.

“It is well and truly the icing on the cake.

“Both Kate and Lucie have been there alongside me every step of the way as we have battled for this tooth and nail.

“Our AdamSmile charity trustees have also been behind us as we’ve fought this epic mission – they have been outstanding,” stressed David, an accountant based in Market Harborough.

The AdamSmile footpath is now finally taking shape.

“We have been forced to take on and overcome so many tough challenges to get AdamSmile over the line.

“It’s been extremely frustrating – the story of one or two people who have done their best to stop us at times is well known.

“But we have been inspired by our beautiful son Adam every day and every inch.

“AdamSmile is the best legacy that he could have left us – and we dedicate this to Adam.”

Two kissing gates have now been installed and four waymarker posts erected by contractors working for West Northamptonshire Council this week.

Works teams have also mown the thick grass, cut back vegetation and made a steep embankment safer to make AdamSmile much more accessible.

Adam was killed as he tumbled from his bike into the path of a lorry as he cycled along the A4304 from Lubenham to Market Harborough’s Welland Park Academy almost 15 years ago.

David and Kate launched the AdamSmile crusade so that youngsters can walk from Lubenham to schools in Market Harborough while enjoying the countryside – and being taken out of harm’s way.

“We decided straight away to try to make it much easier and safer for children to go to school in Market Harborough.

“It was devastating to lose Adam,” said David.

“We loved him to bits and we miss his restless energy, his love of the Great Outdoors and his infectious smile every day.

“We were determined to do our best to make sure that there would never be another tragedy like ours, another family ripped apart by this almost unbearable grief.”

About two thirds of the new AdamSmile trail runs through Northamptonshire while the Leicestershire sector snakes off into Farndale View off Lubenham Hill in Market Harborough.

“It’s not been easy working with two councils at times.

“But we are very grateful for all their help and support – and they’ve worked together well on the whole,” said David, who still lives in Lubenham.

“Leicestershire County Council put up yellow-topped marker posts to highlight the new path on their patch – and it’s proving amazingly popular with runners and dog-walkers.

“They have mown the verges and cut back the undergrowth and hedges in the Market Harborough section.

“Signs have been put up on Old Hall Lane in Lubenham and on Farndale View in Market Harborough pointing the way for AdamSmile.

“The trail itself winds its way through some glorious countryside.

“And it is obviously so much better than being forced to walk or run along by the busy road linking Lubenham to Market Harborough.”

Adam’s fired-up family also want to see a dedicated cycling route set up too.

“Our newly-recognised footpath is over four metres wide.

“So there will be plenty of room to carve out the dual purpose walking/biking route.

“We’ve got to kickstart a whole new process to get this done.

“But the two county councils backed by Lubenham Parish Council are behind us.

“And as a charity we’ve built up over £140,000, mainly from donations from so many generous people, so that we can help to make this happen,” said David, whose wife Kate teaches at Lubenham Primary School.

“Losing Adam was heartbreaking.

“But if we can save just one life by opening up Adam’s footpath then all the many days and weeks campaigning and going into battle will have been worth it.

“And we are going to throw one massive party when we get through the Covid pandemic and get back to normal.

“We’ll line the entire route from Lubenham to Market Harborough with our supporters holding hands – and Adam will be uppermost in all our minds.”

Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough District Council, told the Mail: “I am in total admiration of David, Kate and their family.

“What they have achieved creating AdamSmile is nothing short of miraculous.

“I am just so delighted that they have finally got over the line,” said Cllr King.

“They have shown such immense tenacity, determination and courage in the face of so many mini-battles and obstacles hurled at them over the years.

“And they have shown such incredible dignity right from the start.

“I am sure that their son Adam will be very proud of them for their formidable achievement – and I applaud them wholeheartedly.”

A West Northamptonshire Council spokesman said: "Our contractor started work on the Northamptonshire part of the route on Monday and expects to complete that work by the end of the week.

“These works include the installation of two kissing gates and four waymarker posts, the mowing of grass and cutting back of some vegetation and work to create steps or a graded slope into the embankment in order to improve access."