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24th Sep, 2021

Hats the way to do it - World Record smashed in memory of brave Finlay Church

Tristan Harris 26th May, 2016 Updated: 17th Oct, 2016

AN EVENT held on what would have been Finlay Church’s 12th birthday has seen the World Record for the longest line of hats completely smashed.

The attempt – the latest phase of Finlay’s Journey – took place last Friday (May 20) at Alvechurch Middle School, where Fin attended.

He sadly passed away in November last year after losing his bravely fought brain tumour battle.

The original record stood at 1,000 hats but now, thanks to ‘Finlay’s Friends’ – a team of 20 youngsters who organised the event, promoted it and helped lay the headwear – the new record is 5,471.

Fin’s mum Penny Church said: “We did the whole thing in just four weeks.

“It was a good way for us to get through Fin’s birthday – we felt the whole love and care from the community, just like when we attempted the teddy bear record.”

Fin led that attempt which saw a 15,534 strong line of teddies laid, again smashing the previous record.

And Penny said this time, there was one particular moment when they felt like Fin was there in spirit.

“When the 1,001th hat was laid – the one to break the record – we saw it had the initials FJ on the side which was incredible because they were all picked randomly from the 5,471 that had been donated.”

FJ was what people used to call him and also stands for ‘Finlay’s Journey’.

The FJ hat which threw up the amazing coincidence was manufactured by FootJoy, a make of sporting headwear.

The 1,000th hat laid by Mackenzie was donated by Tom Fletcher from McFly and the 5,000th one was given to the cause by Lorraine Kelly.

That all came about when Katie Smith, a friend of Penny’s, won a competition to write a children’s book and met the pair of the celebrities.

She took the opportunity to ask them to donate a hat each and they duly obliged.

Katie was also an independent witness on the day which saw every pupil at Alvechurch Middle School lay a hat.

“Everyone was tremendous – from the ‘Finlay’s Friends’ group to all those who turned up on the day.”

The majority of the hats used in the challenge have gone to the Socks and Chocs charity which helps out the homeless people in Birmingham.

Bromsgrove’s Busking Bobby Ian Northcott, who runs the cause, met the Church family at the Pride of Birmingham Awards and suggested they team up for some fund-raising.

Some of the other hats will be sold at Alvechurch Middle School in aid of Brain Tumour Research and the event, including proceeds from a funfair, barbecue and bar, generated another £5,000 for that cause.

And she said, with the experience of the teddy bear record, this one seemed a lot more organised and easier to do.

“I think we’ll definitely attempt some more records and keep with the ‘longest line’ theme, we’ve just got to think of what to create a long line of next.”

Penny now wants Standard readers to get in touch with her with their ideas for what should be in the next World Record-breaking line.

To put forward suggestions or for more information on the cause, search for ‘Finlay’s Journey’ on Facebook, email or call Penny 07802 652518.

To donate to the charity visit

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Visit  for more on Brain Tumour Research.


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