Friend of Taunton teenager Barnaby Webber says support is 'restoring faith in humanity'


A friend of Taunton teenager Barnaby Webber says the work she’s doing to raise money for his foundation is helping her process what happened to him.

The 19-year-old was killed in Nottingham, where he attended university, by Valdo Calocane last June. Two other people were also killed: Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates.

Emily Yap knew Barnaby from when he was a toddler and will be running an ultramarathon later this year in his honour. Race to the Stones takes place on 13 and 14 July and will see Emily tackle a 100km distance to Avebury in Wiltshire.

Emily said she continues to tackle her grief every day, which is made harder by just how high profile Barney's death has been. She wasn’t able to be in court when his killer was sentenced but the huge media coverage has been unavoidable.

She said: "I've really struggled to hear those finer details and those specifics - for a long time I just ignored it. Sometimes things are coming out that I didn't know even existed, like seeing the CCTV of Barney and Grace walking down the road that night. Now that they're out there and I'm exposed to it, I can start to process that and work towards what we are doing."

Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar were killed by Valdo Calocane Credit: Nottinghamshire Police/PA

The main thing Emily is doing is raising money for the Barnaby Webber Foundation, which was set up following his death.

She has received a lot of support leading up to her challenge. Running coach Kelvin Horner, from Wild Souls Running, has offered her six months of free coaching. She is also being supported by a performance therapist - Ben Jones from ABloc Physiotherapy.

Meanwhile Taunton Motorhome Hire has offered her family free use of a motorhome during the weekend so they can follow her on the run.

The company's director, Emma Thomas, said what happened to Barnaby struck a huge chord with her: "It was in Taunton, which really hit home to all of us how it could be any of our sons or daughters this could happen to and how random it was.

"When Emily's mum phoned us up, we just wanted to be able to do something."

Emily said her running has had a huge impact on helping her process what happened to Barney and she hopes the money she is raising, already over £2,500, can help many people in his name.

She said the support she's received has meant a lot to her.

"After the event you really question life and you question humanity", Emily said.

"If someone can go out and do this with absolute evil behind them, where is the good? So to see people doing this for nothing other than to give back to somebody it's really helping restore that positivity and that faith."