August 31st 2016, worst day of my life.
The day was a blur but I remember being woken up by a scream that I never want to hear again, it was around 8am and this cry was my mother finding out from the police that her eldest son had been found in the nearby park by a dog walker. The police were very professional and it turned out that my dad an ex-cop knew him, the officer had seen our last name appear on the sheet and he requested to go over and be a familiar face.
To be honest I can’t remember the guys name or what he looked like, I remember comforting my mother whilst my dad went to confirm and don’t remember much else from that day other than informing people and sitting blankly.
People always ask if we knew or had an idea something was up, and no we had no clue. It’s the thing that gets me when I think about it. The not knowing why. I remember a few days before he had seen family and given hugs and we drove around in his car and saw grandma and we gave her and mum a group hug, that’s the memory I try to stick with. It’s the super happy, smiley people you need to check in with, the ones that help others and put people before themselves, they don’t always know when to ask for help for themselves. Our lives were changed forever from that point, we all struggled and went to counselling and that’s where I found that talking about how we are and feel could have been what saved my brother, Neil.
Over the years my other brother, Lewis, has been traveling and raising money for mental health charities by doing cycling across countries, I always advertised his fundraisers and got him interviews with newspapers but never thought about doing something myself as to be honest I am not the fittest person.
It was on a whim that I thought it was about time I raised a little bit of money, money that could be useful for a charity that could of helped Neil speak out and talk about what was going on, this is why I chose Andys Mans Club. A charity that runs mens workshops where they can meet and discuss their lives in a safe environment, they run all over the U.K.
I started training only twice a week or so and really struggled, I had so many moments of “I can’t do this” I was going to just not bother, then I noticed the donations. The donations hit £100 within a week or so and by the time the run came around we were on £600. That spurred me on, the amount of people that money would help spurred me to keep going. Even though I was only managing 3 minute jogs and only really doing 2.5k, I knew I had to just keep going, I also knew Neil was watching and either laughing or egging me, most likely a mix of both. Training was a disaster, my knees that are already a bit ruined started to struggle and I needed rest and then I caught an infection so had to stop for over a week. When I got back running I wasn’t much better, I luckily had the best running partner Imogene who always kept a good pace and checked in on me if I struggled behind.
The day of the race came round and our lil rag tag team of 6 University friends got ready to rumble, freezing cold and wet it was a terrible start.
Through the race we split off all running our own paces, for a while I was alone near the back but managed to catch up with the other runners and keep pace with some familiar faces, I rang my boyfriend half way to get me through it and nattered to a few other runners who egged me on. It was hard, not going to lie, it was so hard, the final stretch I could feel tears in my eyes from the relief but also my chest felt tight and anxiety hit, people were going to watch me jog over the line, I managed to quickly compose myself to finish in a time of 1 hour and 25 minutes, I was so happy and even happier to find that my donation had gone up to £700 whilst I had been running.
It was a hard but worth it run, I did my brother proud and I hope the donations I got will help someone speak up and I hope it helps save a life and save a family from the heart ache my family feel everyday.