Veteran walks 300 miles to raise money for arts centre in memory of New Cross fire

Musician and veteran Eddie Capone is walking 300 miles throughout April to raise money for an arts centre in memory of the victims of the New Cross fire.

This is the first stage in Mr Capone’s fundraising plan for the centre – through which he hopes to raise £1 million.

He also hopes to throw a virtual benefit concert on May 23 – the same date as a fundraising concert was held in 1981 for the victims of the fire.

Mr Capone came up with the idea in January while in hospital with Covid-19, saying: “It all came to me really in my hospital bed. I got a text that there was a memorial service for the 14 young people that had died in the New Cross Fire.

“I thought my goodness, that’s really not good enough. Year in year out all we can do is say prayers for these young lives and within a few days I thought I’ve got to do something.”

Inspired by the late Sir Captain Tom, Mr Capone decided to walk from Sainsbury’s in New Cross to Catford Town Hall and back again every day in April.

But the walking was a challenge after months of lockdown and the after effects of Covid-19.

He said: “Prior to lockdown I wouldn’t have considered blinking an eyelid because I was pretty fit. I could have done it easily. 

“Now I’ve really got to prepare myself to see if I can get back to anyway near that fitness before the lockdown.”

Mr Capone was admitted to Lewisham hospital at the end of December and was discharged on January 6.

His time in hospital re-inspired him to keep working to help the community.

He said: “With all the things that were going on – people going in not coming out – I had several times when I had to ask myself if this was a one way ticket. 

“I’m very grateful for the treatment and care that I got in the hospital and I didn’t get a one way ticket so I’ve been put back in society to continue creating value with my life.

“My compass has been completely re-calibrated. My life has a different purpose and meaning now.”

Mr Capone’s aim is to create a culture and arts centre for young people in honour of the victims of the New Cross fire.

Mr Capone said: “I can’t bring them back but I can create some form of value for them, in respect of young lives left, because they never got to see the fruition of their lives. It was cut short, so I would like to turn that poison into something of medicine.”

He hopes that the centre will allow youngsters to develop their musical and artistic skills.

Wayne Haynes, who survived the New Cross Fire, has given his support to Mr Capone’s plans.

He said: “Eddie is one of the few out there that’s willing to give up his time and his knowledge for nothing.

“Right now, the youngsters out there need some guidance and we no longer have those places for those kids to go and get that guidance. 

“What Eddie’s looking to set up will be a hub for those kids to go. They’ll be able to go and do something and learn something constructive with their time.”

The New Cross fire, in the early hours of Sunday, January 18, 1981, killed 13 young black people who had been enjoying a birthday party when tragedy struck. One survivor took their own life 18 months later.

To donate to Mr Capone’s fundraiser, click here.

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