Three bereaved fathers who set out to achieve something positive following the tragic suicides of their daughters have announced a third national charity walk.
The 3 Dad Walking, who have already raised more than a million pounds for the national charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, have become national heroes for raising awareness and helping to save young lives.
Andy Airey from Cumbria, Mike Palmer from Greater Manchester and Tim Owen from Norfolk completed their first challenge in 2021 by walking 300 miles.
A year later they doubled that distance by trekking 600 miles, walking between the parliaments of all four nations from Northern Ireland through Scotland, Wales and England.
Now they plan to trek a further 500 miles in April and May of this year, covering new ground by walking from Scotland through the eastern counties of England.
On route, they will visit some of the newly opened, or soon-to-open, PAPYRUS offices and hubs in Stirling, Newcastle, Leeds, Hull and Norwich.
Andy Airey, who lost his 29-year-old daughter Sophie to suicide in 2018, said: “This walk is about refocussing our fundraising efforts to help PAPYRUS achieve its goals and extend the lifesaving work the charity does.
“Along the way we will talk to loads of people, some of whom will be new to the charity, we will raise funds to help PAPYRUS open more offices, train more people and ultimately stop preventable suicides. Together we can save lives.”
Mike Palmer, who lost his 17-year-old daughter Beth to suicide in 2020, says the 3 Dads Walking have unfinished business.
“Our third walk is borne from the belief that more precious young lives can be saved. Progress is being made but the fact is we hear of more tragic stories nearly every week and there is so much work still to do.
“Walking and talking is what we do. Smashing the stigma around mental health and suicide is our goal. With every step we remember our girls and this gives us the courage to make a difference.”
In 2022 the 3 Dads Walking attracted more than 100,000 signatures for an online petition to include suicide prevention in the school curriculum, prompting a debate in the House of Commons.
Shortly afterwards the dads received a national Pride of Britain Award.
Tim Owen, who lost his 19-year-old daughter Emily to suicide in 2020, said: “Like many, I was shocked to find out that suicide is the biggest killer of under 35s in the UK, and often wondered if our stories would have been different if we or our girls had known about PAPYRUS and the charity’s HOPELINE247 service.
“Our walk will highlight the lifesaving work PAPYRUS deliver through a growing number of hubs embedded in communities across the UK. The more money we raise as we walk, the more the charity will expand across the nation and the more lives will be saved.”
During their two previous walks, the 3 Dads Walking were overwhelmed by public kindness and generosity.
Hollywood actors Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman each donated £10,000 as did soccer legend Lou Macari who lost his son to suicide.
Ged Flynn, Chief Executive of PAPYRUS, said: “The 3 Dads Walking have already captured the nation’s hearts, after all what could be more important than the wellbeing of our children and saving young lives?
“Andy, Mike and Tim are ordinary dads who will be continuing their extraordinary mission to raise awareness and spread hope, helping to start vital conversations about suicide that too many families feel unable or unwilling to have.
“In their efforts to raise much-needed funds for our charity, the dads have already enabled us to grow and 2024 will see PAPYRUS further extend its work into the heart of many communities across the UK.”
For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINE247 at 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org