The mission to hug gran: Boy, 11, and father fight off pack of wild dogs and tame feral donkey during epic 93-day trek over 1,700 miles from Sicily to London so they can see their 77-year-old grandmother
- Romeo Cox left Palermo, Italy on June 20 arriving in London, September 21
- The epic journey took him through Italy, Switzerland, France and finally the UK
- The Hackney boy fought off pack of feral dogs in Rome and tamed a wild donkey
A boy of 11 spent 93 days walking 1,700 miles from Sicily to London with his father so he could give his grandmother a special lockdown cuddle.
Schoolboy Romeo Cox set off from Palermo on June 20 with his father Phil, 46, on a journey through Italy, Switzerland and France.
The pair fought off a pack of feral dogs in Rome and even tamed a wild donkey as they made their way back to the UK.
Romeo Cox (pictured) spent 93 days walking 1,700 miles from Sicily to London with his father so he could give his grandmother a special cuddle in lockdown
The arduous journey included boat journeys, cycling and a donkey ride but determined Romeo said it was ‘easy’ to walk thousands of miles when heading home.
The father and son’s adventures involved them sleeping in churches, hostels and camping under the stars while some people offered them their homes.
Romeo finally reached Trafalgar Square on September 21 — 93 days after setting off — but he’ll have to wait a little longer before he can hug his beloved grandmother Rosemary, 77.
The youngster – whose father is English and mother Giovanna Stopponi is Italian – is isolating before he can be reunited with the pensioner who lives in Witney, Oxon.
Romeo said: ‘We got lost a few times. We slept under a wasp nest which wasn’t a good idea, got bloody feet, but we never thought about giving up.’
Romeo’s efforts, who moved from Hackney, East London, to Palermo last year, have raised £11,000-plus for the charity Refugee Education Across Conflicts Trust (REACT).
Romeo (pictured) trekking through the Swiss mountains who along with his father Phil fought off a pack of feral dogs in Rome and even tamed a wild donkey as they made their way back to the UK
Romeo (second from right) even got ‘bloody’ feet but the thought of seeing his grandmother (second from left) kept his spirits up
Reflecting on the journey Romeo added: ‘As we got closer I just kept thinking about seeing my Granny, and how excited I was.
‘I can’t wait to give her a cuddle, it’s been over a year since I last saw her. She was all alone during lockdown.’
‘I grew up in the best street in the world. Southborough Road! It is always home for me and my neighbours are like family.’
Romeo (pictured) slept in churches, convents and hostels and even in the wild under the stars
Romeo (pictured) at a Care4Calais centre, the non-profit helps refugees from war-torn countries stranded less than 30 miles from British shores
Selfless Romeo totally absorbed himself in his mission making friends along the way and visited child migrant centres and met refugees.
Romeo’s mother runs the refugee charity REACT and the money raised will go towards supporting the organisations drop in and community centre in Palermo.
It will be used to buy 50 tablets and will provide WIFI connection for refugee and local disadvantaged kids.
It was a long road ahead as Romeo (pictured) and his father Phil began their 1,700 mile from here in Sicily
Romeo (left) and his father Phil ‘s arduous journey included boat journeys, cycling and a donkey ride
These kids have became Romeo’s friends and helped him when he first moved to Italy and did not speak the language.
‘I know that some kids my age and older here in Palermo have missed out on all the study during lock-down because they cannot get online for the lessons and already find themselves excluded and missing out,’ said Romeo.
‘Being able to learn online and have digital learning is important.’
Romeo (pictured) and his father Phil enlisted the help of this donkey to help them carry their supplies and belongings along the journey
Phillip Barrass, head of Southborough Road residents association and organiser of Romeo’s home coming added: ‘Phil and Romeo’s neighbours rallied, suitably separated and masked, to mark their great home-coming.
‘A few of us walked the last few miles from Trafalgar Square with them, and my legs still ache from that very tough eight kilometres.
‘We shared trifle, cake and Prosecco and listened respectfully as Romeo told us all why he had done it, then locked the two of them securely in their house to begin their quarantine.’
No easy feat: Romeo along with his father Phil walked spent 93 days walking 1,700 miles from Palermo to London so he could give his grandmother a special cuddle
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