My plan was to run 21 marathons in 2021 but illness and injury had other plans. I still completed 12 and am so grateful to those who generously supported me. So what next? Simply put, I’m running again with purpose for two great charities, and I am delighted to announce that I will be fundraising for Mind and the LFC Foundation in 2022, supporting them in their life and community transforming work.
Why these two charities?
Mind, the mental health charity
For many readers, it will not be necessary to write about my commitment to Mind. I genuinely do not believe I would be alive today were it not for their intervention after my third and final attempt on my own life back in January 2006.
Sixteen years on, it has been a privilege to partner with them on some incredible campaigns, to run fifty marathons representing the charity, to raise over £40,000 for their life transforming work, and to latterly become a Trustee for the organisation.
Whether through running and fundraising, media campaigns, or speaking within the workplace, I’ve always tried to be a role model, showing that there is hope beyond mental illness. However, I speak from a position of privilege both societally and in terms of my wellbeing.
The system is stacked with inequity and prejudice, and I am so energised by Mind’s new strategy, with priorities to become a truly anti-racist organisation, support young people and fight for the mental health of those in poverty.
Ultimately, Mind have been at the heart of so much I have been able to achieve and I count it as a joy to be able to support them in having the same impact on other individual lives and on the wider landscape around mental health.
The LFC Foundation
I’ve written often about my lifelong relationship with Liverpool Football Club. It is a relationship which transcends football and, in many respects goes beyond the club into the heart of a city and its people.
There are several posts on this site which will reference the significance of football and Liverpool on my journey, not least this post in which I journal the 2006 FA Cup Final, a day on which Bipolar Disorder and Liverpool collided… and Liverpool won.
In the interests of being succinct, when living with serious mental illness and contemplating suicide, I felt I had no place in this world. In fact, the only place I did belong during some of the most difficult moments was on the Spion Kop at Anfield. It was a place where I could just be me, where I could lose myself and sing with joy as part of something so much bigger than me. It was where I belonged in a world where I had no other sense of belonging.
So way beyond football, this is why Liverpool Football Club is entrenched deeply in my heart and soul. In the words of the talented Jamie Webster, “My City, My People, My Heart”.
Liverpool is also where I studied and graduated, where I lived, it is a place I still consider to be home. It is rich in heart, culture and resilience, but there is marked deprivation and poverty.
The LFC Foundation is the official charity of Liverpool Football Club. Building on the Club’s work in the community over the past 20 years, the charity was formed in 2010 as a financially independent organisation to improve the lives of others.
Working in areas of high need and deprivation across Liverpool, it aims to deliver sustainable and long-term change for communities and to ensure that its work continues to benefit future generations.
In a different way to Mind, the city of Liverpool and its football club are pivotal in my being alive today and it is a privilege to give back to the place and people I love.
What do you have to do?
I will share fundraising links below but there is no call to action and no request for your generosity. You’ve already given so warmly in the last nine years. I will raise money by donating my speaking fees generated as a keynote speaker around mental health and wellbeing.
Should you wish to donate, you can do so here:-
What do I have to do?
Nothing other than my best. I’ll be the best I can be to live out the values of both Mind and Liverpool Football Club, I will try to stay fit and to complete the events my body allows me to. So far in 2022, I am scheduled to run at least five marathons and one ultra, so fingers crossed for a lot of fun along the way!