Every year, Paul takes on a challenge to raise money for mental health. 2016 is no different. He’s set himself the challenge of cycling along the Western Front, all to help raise funds for our pioneering research into mental health.
We spoke to him, just days before he headed off, to find out more about his trip and the reasons behind it.
He told us this year’s adventure is inspired by the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. But there’s also more personal reasons. His Grandfather served in the 1st World War, as well as a number of other family members. And the trip provides a way to honour them, whilst raising money for a good cause at the same time.
Counting up dozens of miles each day, the cycling is definitely going to be a challenge. But it’s for a cause that’s never been more needed says Paul.
“There’s no part of mental health that shows the lack of parity more than research. All of us have some sort of link, and know someone who’s been affected. 1 in 4 will have a mental health illness each year, but just 6% of UK research spend goes on the area.”
“That’s a travesty given the potential of research. It’s key to improving our understanding of mental health and finding new treatments. It’s crucial to changing attitudes and challenging stigma. But more than anything, it’s the area that can bring hope of a better future.”
“Research into the cancer had that impact. A few decades back it was hushed up and a taboo subject. But our increased understanding of the issue, made possible through research, has transformed attitudes and saved countless lives too. It’s about time the same happened in mental health.”
“Which is why I’m raising money for MQ. It’s bringing together the priorities of those affected by mental illness with world-leading scientists to fund life-changing research.”
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As well as making a difference to mental health, there are a few other perks to the trip. He’s looking forward to getting in the saddle and clocking up the miles, something he says is good for his mental health. There will also be the chance to visit some famous sites, explore bits of the countryside you’d never normally see, and at the end of a hard days cycling, sample some well-deserved local beers.
Having already smashed his fundraising targets he also had a few tips too for others looking to take on a similar challenge. “Be brazen, ask everyone and anyone to give, and you never know who’ll end up donating… And every time I get that email through saying someone else has sponsored me I get a little buzz that makes it worth it.”
We’ll be sharing Paul’s story next week as he makes his way across the Western Front. If you want to keep updated you can follow him on Twitter, or contribute towards his efforts on his Just Giving page.
Last updated: 16 August 2016