Dear Friends & Family
With the current deserved spotlight on mental health, I confess that I have been as guilty as many others of hiding the fact that I have suffered with mental health issues for a number of years. At my lowest ebb I even thought everyone would be better off without me! But with excellent professional help from the most amazing counsellors and with the love and support of my wife and family and a few of you who I confided in (you know who you are) I have managed to overcome the worst of it.
However, a lot of men both my age and much younger aren’t so lucky to come through it and overcome their own personal problems. This was brought home to me very recently when the 15 year old son of one of our close neighbours could no longer face his own demons and took his own life. The tragedy of this was he had been diagnosed with depression and was getting professional help but he found it very hard to talk about his own plight with friends and family because of the stigma attached to mental health problems. It is hard not to conclude that this contributed to his decision to take his own life. His family have set up a charity in his name - the Sam West Foundation – and one of its aims will be to “promote awareness, diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues in young people through the provision of grants to organisations with a track record of working in these areas”. A cause which I have promised to help with in any way possible.
So at the age of 55 I have undertaken to complete 5 triathlons in the next 5 months (“5 in 5 at 55”) both to raise awareness of the issues and to raise funds for the Sam West Foundation as well as another charity called the Maytree Respite Centre. This second charity is unique in the UK in providing a free sanctuary for 4 nights for individuals who are experiencing a suicidal crisis. The centre’s aim is to alleviate suffering and help people in suicidal crisis to re-engage with life and to restore hope. Its work was publicised in the Professor Green documentary “Suicide and Me” which I would urge you all to download and watch.
So what do I want from you all? First, I’d like some volunteers to come and join me and do the triathlons with me!!! The Castle Series of triathlons (https://www.castletriathlonseries.co.uk/) are held at castles or stately homes in the UK, Ireland and France with the option of competing in distances from super sprints for beginners up to the Olympic triathlon distance for those more capable.
I will also be raising funds for both charities through donations and sponsorship over the coming months as I complete each triathlon and I would be delighted if you could donate any amount however small to support them in their fantastic work. You can make donations through a JustGiving page (https://www.justgiving.com/teams/5in5at55) and can elect to target your particular donation to one or both of them. I will be posting regular updates as to my progress over the coming months as well as information about mental health generally. I will post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as trying to email updates too.
So come and join me or find some small part of your hard earned cash to donate to support these very worthy causes.
With my very best wishes and thanks
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