People carry out good deeds in memory of Ponteland teenager
The popular 19-year-old, who was studying at the University of Manchester, died following a night out in the city on March 1, 2018.
He drowned after falling into the Rochdale Canal and the tragedy prompted his family to campaign for improved safety along the city’s waterways. A petition for new barriers was signed by nearly 100,000 people, and now protective fencing and throw lines have been installed.
But his parents Andria, 53, and Nick, 56, are also keen to turn the anniversary of his death from a negative into a positive, which is why they have named March 1 “Charlie’s Good Deed Day”.
Today, using the hashtag #CharliesGoodDeedDay and a picture of a yellow heart, which has become synonymous with the good deed campaign, the family posted on Facebook: “A simple gesture that will make someone smile is all that's required, be it a bunch of flowers, holding a door open for someone or carrying their shopping to the car.
“Charlie was a very generous and giving young man and always a joker, so for people to smile in his memory would make him so proud.”
Mrs Pope, 53, said the idea came about shortly before the first anniversary of Charlie’s accident. She asked people in her bereavement groups how they acknowledged the poignant day, and the answers just “seemed so sad” to her.
She explained: “Some said they went to their child’s favourite restaurant, cooked their favourite meal, went for a walk on the beach.
"Each to their own, but Charlie was not that kind of person. He would not have wanted us to be sad on that day, so I had to think of something more uplifting. That’s where the random acts of kindness idea came from, and it just grew from there.”
Her friend set up a Facebook page and now each year people share what nice thing they have done in Charlie’s memory.
Mrs Pope added: “It’s the fourth anniversary this week and I thought people would tire of it but it’s just the opposite. Every year it appears to gather momentum.
"I’ve a friend in New Zealand – she always does something and then posts it on there, my cousin has a hair salon and she brought cupcakes in for everyone, and a florist in Gosforth donated free bunches of daffodils for people to give to others, just to make them smile."
The Pope’s neighbours in Ponteland also left plant cuttings and hand-made soaps on their garden walls today, for people to help themselves to.
Charlie was a former pupil of Ponteland High School, and left with three A Levels. Pupils and staff formed a guard of honour on the day of his funeral, which was attended by more than 1,000 people.