This blog was written by PAPYRUS Wales Area Manager, David Heald.

Recently, it occurred to me that having opportunities to meet and greet people who support PAPYRUS through fundraising is an absolute privilege.

Some people who have lost a loved one to suicide take up exceptional challenges to fundraise for PAPYRUS. However, when I meet fundraisers their main message always centres around awareness, prevention and hope.

Whether it’s our PAPYRUS Cardiff team coming together to wish Emma Webb well on her journey with her resin horse, walking from Chepstow to London, or staff and volunteers from both PAPYRUS Cardiff and PAPYRUS Carmarthen hubs spending a Sunday supporting a fundraiser climbing Pen-y-Fan 10 times in 24 hours, we mean it when we say, we are not a faceless charity. If you are doing something exceptional for us, we will try to be there to support you.

Recently, I met with Katy Roberts, a fundraiser cycling around the UK coastline, a journey of around 3,500 miles, while incorporating a daily dip in the sea. Katy’s website displays her journey, and visitors can watch a short video about her story. I challenge you not to be touched by it. The PAPYRUS Aberystwyth team met her when she passed through West Wales, and I was honoured to meet her as she came to the PAPYRUS North Wales office in Conwy in June.

During my conversation with Katy, I reflected on the importance of meeting people; having a physical presence with someone to show gratitude and appreciation for undertaking such a challenge is highly important to us all at PAPYRUS. There is also the human element of listening, hearing, and feeling emotions to allow the person to know they are seen and that they will make a difference.

We have also had a visit to our PAPYRUS North Wales hub in Conwy from Tony Parry, one of the founding parents of PAPYRUS. Reflecting on that meeting, I became more aware of how important it is to see that human element, where it all started, and to feel I’m not working in a charity without a human face. I hope Tony felt that all my colleagues throughout the UK and I are taking forward the purpose of what he, his wife Anne, and the other parents had set out to do. To know that we are all making a difference.

I’ve also been fortunate to meet Mike Palmer and Monty the dog in person, one-third of the 3 Dads Walking. Mike connected the PAPYRUS North Wales office with new fundraisers from Anglesey, and as a result, we met the Cemaes Bay Swimmers who are doing the Anglesey 42 Beach Swim Challenge with PAPYRUS being one of the benefiting charities. They welcomed my colleague Nicola and me to the group; we donned our wetsuits and have joined a couple of swims with them already, sharing stories as well as cake!

Personally, I have been a fundraiser myself for other charities and, for me, it was about supporting something I am passionate about or affected by, such as cancer research and the hedgehog rescue centre in North Wales. To be clear, I have been affected by cancer within the family and I am passionate about hedgehogs.

We know that suicide is the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 in the UK, which means so many people are affected by suicide. Not everyone chooses to take on great challenges, but talking to people, allowing them space to talk, and sharing their story will ultimately share HOPE and let people know they are making a difference and they are seen.

This is a significant part of our mission in PAPYRUS Wales, and it is a privilege to be part of it.

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