Painted rocks travel globe to give late father-of-two ‘one last adventure’

Painted rocks travel globe to give late father-of-two ‘one last adventure’
Izzy Barnes (middle) and her brother Nathan (right) came up with the idea for Griff’s Last Adventure after their father Griff Barnes (left) died ‘unexpectedly’ last year (Izzy Barnes/PA)

Two children from Portsmouth have started an initiative to send painted rocks around the globe in memory of their father who died “unexpectedly” in order to give him “one last adventure”.

Izzy Barnes, 18, and her 15-year-old brother Nathan Barnes started Griff’s Last Adventure in memory of Griff Barnes, who died aged 54 from an aortic aneurysm in July 2023.

The rocks have been found by hundreds of people in numerous countries and cities around the world including Yemen, Ukraine, New York, Kenya, Costa Rica and the Arctic, with the idea that when one is found, it is taken to a new location and left for another person to discover.

A photo of Griff Barnes smiling at the camera with a mountain range behind himGriff Barnes died at the age of 54 from an aortic aneurysm, prompting his family members to create Griff’s Last Adventure in his memory (Izzy Barnes/PA)

The stones have been painted in a variety of colours and come with a message directing those who find them to a Facebook page – which currently has more than 850 members – where they are invited to post a photo of their rock and leave a note to the group.

Miss Barnes, a student, told the PA news agency how the page has brought “comfort” to her family at a time of grief and explained how they came up with the idea for Griff’s Last Adventure in the days following her father’s death.

“We just thought let’s give him one last adventure to all the countries he couldn’t go to,” Miss Barnes said.

A rock sitting on a stone at the Red Rock Canyon outside of Las VegasA rock for Griff Barnes at the Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas (Shona Rust/PA)

“We went on a holiday to Somerset with my dad’s side (of the family) and we were very deep in the grieving stages at that point as it had literally just happened.

“We just thought, what can we do to take our minds off it but also to remember him.

“He loved travelling, he would go anywhere, he was such an adventurous person.”

A blue rock reading the word 'Griff' on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York CityA rock reading the word ‘Griff’ which had been left on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City for another person to discover (Sheila Scottow/PA)

Miss Barnes said the majority of the rocks came from local beaches in the UK, and the family will paint and cover them in a waterproof polish to ensure they withstand the elements.

“Some people have joined and asked for a rock but they live in a different country so we’ve given people the opportunity to paint their own because we want as many rocks as we can to be out there,” she said.

“We just thought it would be family, friends and people who were close to him but it just started to blow up and we would get lots of messages every day.

“One rock at the moment is about to head over to the Maldives, we’ve had one in the Arctic, Tokyo.

A rock reading the words 'In loving memory of Griff Barnes' held in front of some flowers over a canal in AmsterdamA rock reading ‘in loving memory of Griff Barnes’ held in front of a canal in Amsterdam (Matilda May Turpin/PA)

“Recently we’ve had somebody who works away on deployment on a submarine – he’d like to have one in the submarine and one at the bottom of the ocean.”

She added that her father, a police inspector at Hampshire Constabulary for over 30 years, died “very unexpectedly” and “quite quickly” but the page has given the family a chance to share memories of Mr Barnes and get close to those who knew him.

“We’ve been able to gain a relationship with his friends that have joined the group in memory of him and we’ve grown close to them,” she said.

A rock sitting beneath a palm tree in TenerifeA rock left underneath a palm tree in Los Cristianos, Tenerife, for another person to discover (Amanda Chase/PA)

“He had the kindest heart and he couldn’t have done any more for anybody, he was the best dad.

“One of the things we’ve learnt is to live each day like it’s your last as you never know if you have a tomorrow.”

To find out more about Griff’s Last Adventure, visit:

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