Harley – Beachy Head Marathon

My story

I have served as a Trustee for North Kent Mind since January 2014 and was elected as Chair of the Board in 2017. My first experience of our organisation was as a Student (in 2012). I am very pleased I had this experience as it challenged me to think about mental health differently. I am passionate about supporting those who may need a helping hand or a listening ear at times, whether by providing services or challenging stigma and discrimination within society, because I care about fairness and respect for all. Society seems mostly to forgive and accept those with physical illnesses, but those suffering with mental health issues or difficulties can be shunned and treated unfairly. This is simply not fair, and whilst things are improving, there is still a lot of work to do in this area.

I also have lived experience of challenges to my own mental health at different times during my life and I have observed that mental health issues can affect anybody regardless of age, race, gender, class or disability and they can so at any time. What I really love about North Kent Mind is that it is rooted in the communities it serves and is filled with wonderful people who care. It is a resource that helps and I feel that we are very fortunate to have it and its people.

About me? I have a deep rooted love of nature and keep an allotment to grow our own vegetables. There is something really calming and satisfying about getting muddy and having extra tasty vegetables. To add to this, I also love bushcraft and learning survival skills, and whilst I haven’t mastered it yet, I have successfully created fire by friction. I feel these interests give me perspective about life and I enjoy the feeling of being connected to something bigger. I also enjoy sport and exercise, particularly; parkrun, cross country and trail running, obstacle course racing and orienteering. Not only do all these provide me an opportunity to meet and talk with others (old friends and new), I also get the endorphin boost and a positive outlet for stress and mood management.

Whilst the distance of the London Vitality 10, 000 shouldn’t be too difficult (bearing in mind my hobbies), I was excited and nervous to be asked to represent North Kent Mind at the event. My nerves are because I really struggle being crammed in anywhere with lots of people. I find large crowds too noisy and overwhelming. In fact, whilst I can make myself visit places, I genuinely avoid going into London for this very reason. As such it will be a different kind of challenge. However, I was also excited because any opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues and support my own community is fantastic and I would argue, too important NOT to do.

Perhaps you have yourself or someone you know has suffered with some kind of challenge to mental health? It is important to know that you are never alone and there are people and services that only exist to help and support you and your loved ones. Please donate to my fundraising page. All of your contributions will be directed to provide services in the communities of Dartford, Gravesham, Swanley and Medway.