Three fathers who lost young daughters to suicide have begun an epic trek across a United Kingdom in mourning.
The 3 Dads Walking say their challenge must go ahead because young people continue to die by suicide.
Andy Airey from Cumbria, Mike Palmer from Greater Manchester and Tim Owen from Norfolk say they will “walk with due deference and respect for Her Majesty The Queen and her family.”
The fathers, who completed a 300-mile fundraising walk last year, are now aiming to trek more than 500 miles in support of the national charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide.
They have already raised more than £880,000 as part of their quest to have suicide prevention included in the school curriculum.
In a joint statement the 3 Dads Walking said: “Our thoughts are with the Royal Family at this sad time. We would like to offer them our sincere condolences.
“The Queen’s unwavering devotion, leadership and service to the country and commonwealth has been an inspiration and example to all.
“It is clear that the tone of the 3 Dads Walking UK 2022 challenge will be different to our original plan. However, we will continue our walk because young people continue to die by suicide.
We will walk with due deference and respect for Her Majesty and her family.”
Fittingly they chose 10 September, World Suicide Prevention Day, to begin the Scottish leg of their walk from Edinburgh.
They will take in much of the UK including Northern Ireland and Wales before finishing in London, taking in all four parliaments on the way.
They are walking in memory of their daughters 17-year-old Beth Palmer, 19-year-old Emily Owen and Sophie Airey who was aged 29.
Andy Airey, from Morland near Penrith, said: “More than 200 schoolchildren are lost to suicide every year. That is both a tragedy and a national scandal which needs to be addressed.
“Our walk is to provide a focus for continuing the conversation with governments about embedding suicide prevention in the school curriculum. Young people want to know more about mental wellbeing and where to get help and schools have a vital role to play in saving young lives.“
Mike Palmer, from Sale in Greater Manchester, added: “We’re walking for a month and we’ll be talking for a month. Talking about how we need to equip our young people with life-skills which they can carry through the rest of their lives to protect themselves and others.” “
Tim Owen from Shouldham in Norfolk said: “It’s going to be an epic. It’s obviously double the distance of our last walk, double the time and so hopefully we’ll meet double the people.
“PAPYRUS works across all four nations and so it makes sense to have a route across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England and the seats of power where people can unlock this and potentially save lives.”
The 3 Dads Walking teamed up for their first charity trek in the autumn of 2021. Their deeply personal stories of suicide received global media attention. Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig each donated £10,000 to their cause.
Ged Flynn, chief executive of PAPYRUS which has its head office in Warrington, says the 3 Dads Walking are already lifesavers.
“Andy, Mike and Tim are helping to start conversations in homes where families were unwilling to discuss suicide. It is remarkable that these proud fathers, who are each trying to deal with their own grief in their own way, have found a positive path forward together.”
To follow the dads’ four-week walk; and to find out how to join them when they arrive in a town near you, you can find their route here: https://www.3dadswalking.uk/the-2022-route
More information about 3 Dads Walking can be found on their website: https://www.3dadswalking.uk/