Kirton: Cyclists set off on marathon ride in memory of James Hodgkinson

A GROUP of intrepid cyclists today set off on a gruelling 186-mile charity cycle ride in memory of a Suffolk man, who was killed on a night out.

The team of around 25 are riding from Kirton to Nottingham as a tribute to James Hodgkinson, marking the first anniversary of his death, and to promote the work of the One Punch campaign.

The group, led by James’ mother, Joan Scourfield, and including many of his friends, set off from outside the White Horse pub in Kirton at 6.30am, aiming to arrive at the bar where he died in Nottingham by lunchtime on Sunday.

Today they are cycling to Cambridge and tomorrow aim to reach Oakham, raising money on route for Community Service Volunteers (CSV), the charity for which James volunteered in his spare time.

The 28-year-old, who worked as a paramedic in London, died nine days after he was hit with a single punch in an unprovoked attack. He had been visiting Nottingham with his father and brother to watch cricket at Trent Bridge.

His attacker, 19-year-old Jacob Dunne admitted manslaughter at Nottingham Crown Court in October last year and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

James’ father David Hodgkinson said: “James loved cycling and we all felt it would be a good tribute to do this ride, and to raise money for the charity he worked for – we want something positive to come out of this tragedy.

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“We also want to highlight the One Punch campaign and the consequences of hitting someone – in Nottingham there have been three deaths in the past year, including James.

“Three lives tragically taken and three young people in prison. If we can help highlight the dangers of these situations, which normally arise when people get out of control through alcohol, and save one life it will be worthwhile.”

Detective Inspector Rob McKinnell, who led the investigation into James’s death, said: “The death of a son and brother in such circumstances would be devastating for any family, but the determination of his family that James’s death should not be in vain can only be admired.

“Since we launched the campaign in December his family has helped us to deliver the ‘One Punch’ message, which is relevant in towns and cities across the UK.

“We want to promote greater awareness of the damage that throwing a punch can do. At worst, it can kill or can cause severe brain damage. It could also result in a significant prison sentence for the offender.

“The impact of that punch also reverberates well beyond assailant and victim. The devastation it causes to the families of victims can never be overstated, while the relatives of offenders will also be forced to come to terms with the actions of their family member.

“Our message is to think twice before you act. Realise, too, that although you might feel invincible, you could just as easily end up being the victim. If you are out in a group, look out for one another. Ensure friends don’t put themselves in a potentially violent situation and, if need be, help them to get home.”

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