A KEIGHLEY man is tackling a gruelling fundraising challenge in tribute to a friend who died aged 25.

Joe Gaughan is running ten kilometres every day for 47 days.

His energy-draining feat is a heartfelt salute to Tom Marshall, who died last October.

The pals were born on the same day in Airedale Hospital and grew-up playing football together.

Joe will finish his challenge on February 16, the birthday shared by the pair.

Proceeds are going into a trust fund for Tom’s son, 16-months-old Bowie.

Joe – an electrician, who lives at Braithwaite – set-up a Just Giving online fundraising page with a £500 target, but has so far raised over £4,000.

“Tom’s death came as a real shock to everyone – it was right out of the blue,” said Joe.

“He had so many friends and people who cared about him.

“I never met anyone who had a bad word to say against Tom.

“He was an unbelievable sportsman, and across many sports. He was good at whatever he turned his hand to.

“We always found the time to ring each other on our birthdays. That will be an emotional day this year.”

The friends played football together as juniors at Bradford City from about the age of eight.

When they were 16, Tom – who was a pupil at Oakbank School in Keighley – signed a full-time contract with City and Joe, a former Holy Family student, with Rotherham United.

Latterly, Tom – who worked for a plumbers’ merchants – played for the village team at Oxenhope, where he lived, and Joe for AFC Silsden.

Joe said the support for his fundraising challenge from footballing circles, family and friends had been “fantastic”.

“It’s rare that I’ve been running on my own,” he said.

“I’ve covered various routes, sometimes setting off from home or perhaps heading along the canal.

“When I began the fundraising, deep down I was hoping for about £2,000. I just didn’t imagine it would go as well as it has.”

On the day Joe completes his challenge, February 16, a charity football match to boost the fund is being held at Oxenhope between a Bradford City XI whose members played with Tom and an Oxenhope county cup winning team. The game kicks off at 3pm.

The Silsden club is also supporting the challenge. It is planning a ‘pay what you want’ day.

Donations to the fund can be made at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/joe-gaughan.