Well what a month it has been and I have to say thank you to so many people who have supported my walk during such challenging times with the Ukraine war, covid infections increasing and the cost of living going through the roof!
So I feel very fortunate to have received so much support and publicity from so many different directions and people.
Firstly, the direct support from Shout 85258 has been incredible and it really makes you aware of what a fantastic organisation it is by offering support to so many people.
Work at the stadium has been very busy this month with a number of extra games being played, this has taken up a lot of my spare time which has made getting my steps in a bit of a challenge at times but fortunately Harry Darling kindly took time out with me to walk a few steps before the CUFC v MK Dons fixture at the Abbey Stadium.
Anyway thanks go to Louise Hulland who interviewed me on the Radio Cambridgeshire breakfast show which was very chilled, Louise was so helpful in letting me explain why this walk is so important to continue for the funding and the dialog about mental health.
Next to give me a call was Julian Clover & Lucy Milazzo from Cambridge 105 and again it was great interview due to the questions asked by Julian and Lucy who were both very supportive and have offered to join one of the public walks.
Scott MacCallum from The Turf Matters was the next person to come forward to offer an interview about mental Health. This again was refreshing and we hope that people suffering with their mental health will understand it is okay to talk and to ask for help. It gave me the opportunity to say that employers have a duty of care to look after their staff struggling with mental health and to offer support to those who often find themselves working alone for long periods of time.
One of the highlights of the month was when I was asked by Peter Houghton from The Football Safety Officers Association if I would speak at the annual conference about mental health. I have to say that having done this 3 years earlier and had such a positive reaction from people in the room I had no hesitation. Prior to the event I managed to knock out 10,000 steps walking along the beautiful river Avon, what an incredible place to switch off.
I was supported at the conference by Hilary Blakemore from SHOUT who is a volunteer who has taken in excess of 1000 calls, Hilary explained what SHOUT offer when people text SHOUT 85258 and it made me appreciate further why the walk and funding is so important with SHOUT receiving over 2400 contacts a day.
The room had safety officers from the premier league through to the National league, I gave a very honest hard hitting 20 minute talk about mental health and PTSD which obviously had an effect on a number of people in the room as throughout the day several people came forward to say they had been struggling with their mental health and not discussed it before but would now get assistance.
I have to say that I feel very privileged to find that people have the confidence to talk to me. I also discussed the Auction that I hope to hold towards the end of the walk and again the response from people in the room was amazing with a number of clubs offering to get signed memorabilia which I will highlight when it arrives. Mark Lawrenson & Matt Le Tissier also signed shirts for the auction and Neil Rowe at Cambridge United kindly donated a Southampton F.C. shirt.
The first auction item was donated by the FSOA and was framed gloves of Bruce Grobbelaar and Mark Crossley
This event showed top support and really highlighted mental health awareness within the FSOA and to show further support Andy Ashworth who hosted the gala dinner put a quiz together which raised £615 that was donated to the walk from everybody attending the dinner. Andy was also supportive to me personally with his comments about my book Life’s A Pitch and I hope there may be a chance that I can work with him in the future.
As for the walk the steps are progressing we have now reached 2,323,488 steps which relates to 1320 miles covered and leaving 1909 to reach Qatar.
The donations now received have hit £13,100 which is amazing!
I am now approaching my busiest time at the football club with the pitch renovation starting in May and all the annual safety certification work but once this is complete and the weather has warmed up I will arrange a date for the next possible walk that anybody can come along to.
Thanks again for your donations and support.
Ian Darler B.E.M