An Auburn Affair

When strikingly beautiful and creative redhead Alex took her own life, her friends and family were left devastated. Georgie told us how she, along with Alex’s family and friends, dealt with their shared grief by celebrating Alex’s life, and raising much needed funds for mental health. 
Alex - her incredible auburn hair, her immense creativity, her confidence, her intelligence, her striking looks; I could go on. 

When we were younger, from around knee height, there were lots of us little ones who lived in close proximity. We’d be thrust over garden fences by parents and left to play for hours on end: dancing around naked in paddling pools, cycling up and down the residential streets or watching West Side Story again and again. We kept ourselves entertained by painting our faces, or dressing up as the Spice Girls (no question who Alex was). And even though we’d have humongous fights and not talk to each other for at least 13 minutes, we were such good friends. Amongst all the fun, however, there was always something about Alex, that, even at such a young age, made it obvious that she was a little uneasy, and that everything was seen through slightly different eyes. 

Throughout our teenage years and twenties, our lives continued to cross paths; bumping into each other at friends' parties, or while she’d be walking friend’s dogs in outrageous and beautiful coats. 

Hearing the news last year that Alex had taken her own life was devastating. All-consuming grief and sadness overcame everyone. Alex’s incredible family was awe-inspiring: the worst that could happen had happened and they dealt with it so bravely, acting with such dignity. 

We decided we wanted to do something to raise money for a charity that is so necessary in today’s world. Mental health is so underrated, yet it affects nearly all of us. 

In our minds there was no better way to celebrate the life of such a wonderful, creative girl than to have a party! 

So we put our heads together and called in favours from various friends, acquaintances and local businesses, and the response was quite simply overwhelming. 

Supermarkets donated food for us to serve, our garage was turned into a makeshift kitchen to create all sorts of wonderful canapés, art teachers printed posters of Alex and her inspirational artwork for us to sell for the charity, her friends created the most wonderful invitations, marquees were borrowed, heaters were shipped from Scotland, friends arrived with their decks and DJ’ed late into the night. Carol from Mental Health Research UK gave a short talk, and, because a party isn't a party without live music, Nigel, Alex’s dad, and his 10 piece Afro, Cuban, Latin and Jazz band piled in to our kitchen with their instruments and we all danced for hours and hours. 

The only thing that was missing was Alex. 

We sold tickets for our par
ty and people were more than generous. We set out to make £1,000 and raised a staggering £4,617.50. All of this money went directly to Mental Health Research UK. 

We can't bring Alex back. In raising this money, our hope is that the research this essential charity undertakes will help other people like Alex, who are so clearly affected from such a young age, and most importantly helps prevent such tragic loss. 


Do you know anyone affected by mental health issues?  Or are you personally affected?

If any of these stories have touched you and you’d like to raise funds for Mental Health Research, take a look at how we can help you fundraise now.

Donate to us through BT MyDonate

For alternative ways to make a donation click here 


Mental Fitness

A truly positive way of overcoming loss and maintaining your own mental health can be through exercise, combine this with fundraising and you’re onto a winner! Two of our fundraisers did just this. 

Jo and her friend Natasha started running together after losing a good friend and as a way for Jo to deal with her post-natal depression. 

In 2015 both Natasha and I lost Dave, a dear friend and colleague who sadly decided to take his own life. It was very unexpected and came as a great shock to us as well as his family and friends. He truly was a wonderful person, with great character, so knowledgeable, always reliable and happy to help. 

Our sadness and loss inspired us to raise money, specifically into the valued research that goes on to answer the questions concerning mental health, why certain people are more prone to suffering with depression than others and what we can learn to stop others from suffering the same. 

With experience of mental health issues myself, particularly with post-natal depression, I wanted to be able to be part of the answer more than anything. When my daughter was two years old I started running again and found that the exercise, outside space and distraction helped me, and truly believe that it helped to save my life. 

Natasha and I had already committed to running the Frome 10k in our home town, as part of our aim to get fit and my continued love of the sport. We initially decided to take part as a way of targeting our personal goals, but then decided to use the event as an opportunity to raise money in memory of Dave, which inspired and
 motivated us even more.

On race day, we were nervous. It was our first running event, it was also further than we’d run before in training and it happened to be on one of the hottest days of the year. We both hoped that Dave was with us and watching, as we pushed ourselves towards the 10k finishing line. To our amazement, we completed the circuit without having to walk which was a great achievement in itself. We completed it in 1 hour 22 minutes, received our medals and felt incredibly proud of ourselves. 

Together with the help and support of our family, friends and colleagues we raised £650 for Mental Health Research UK, more than we could have ever imagined We truly hope that our small contribution will help to make a big difference. Dave’s family contacted us shortly after and thanked us for our efforts, which meant a lot to us. 

The photograph attached shows me on the left, Natasha on the right, just after we completed the race. It has since motivated me to sign up for the 2017 event, in which I aim to improve my time and continue with my fitness and mental health journey. 


Cycling for Mental Health Research UK 

Similar to Jo, Sacha found her path to mental fitness through exercise, this time by cycling across the UK and Europe. Sacha’s own mental health journey led her to take up cycling, and as she’s clocked up the miles she’s been clocking up sponsorship funds for MHR. 

What inspired me to do it? 

I love cycling, the open road, me and the scene - as Robert M. Pirsig says in Zen and Art Motorcycle Maintenance says, “I'd rather be in the scene than watch it”. I need challenges to give me real purpose in life I wanted to see more of Britain - particularly Scotland. So in 
2016 I Cycled the 1000 miles from Lands End to John Groats over 14 days straight (no days off) to raise money for Mental Health Research UK.

Later in same year I also did a Team Cycle Relay Challenge across Europe covering 500 miles in 3 days - the Extra Mile Challenge. 
Why Mental Health Research UK? 

I have had too many lives touch me with mental health issues including close family, and more importantly I personally have had a hidden mental health disorder that I survive and manage, in part through my love of cycling.
Mental health treatment and support is an underfunded area, but research into what we don’t yet know about many very complex illnesses needs even more support. Cycling for me is a coping mechanism, so it made perfect sense for me to raise funds for Mental Health Research through cycling.
How did it go? 

Ultimately it was tough but exhilarating for 2 weeks or life in a bubble away from reality. A chance not to worry. Just to focus on your surroundings. I specifically remember the evening after I entered Scotland and crying down the phone to my daughter but telling her I was enjoying it and underneath the tears I was happy. I also have memories of one of the best birthdays to date on this trip. There were points of sheer physical exhaustion. When I look back I am in awe of myself at what I achieved. 

For the Extra Mile Challenge it turned out tougher than I expected. It was short distances at speed. Having to cool down and start over again made cycling a lot tougher. I experienced a mini asthma attack on Day 2 which scared me but with a team of 4 supporting me (three of whom I hadn't met before), I felt strengthened and determined not to quit. The highlight for me was cycling over the border into Germany whilst achieving my personal average speed record. Despite how tough it was, I'm even considering another trip later this year in 2017! 

After all the challenges I've faced I haven’t given up cycling - in fact the trip across Britain has reminded me where my happiness is, on the open road and in the scene!

You can take a look at Facebook blog for photos of my fundraising journey:  there's also a few pictures and comments on the fundraising page 


Park Issa vets have been raising funds for MHRUK for over six years now in memory of one of their partners, Mark Robinson. If you’re short on fundraising ideas, take a look at what they’ve been up to now.


Park Issa vets first started supporting Mental Health Research UK in 2010 in memory of one of the partners Mr Mark Robinson B.V.Sc M.R.C.V.S, who sadly took his own life in 2009. 

Our fundraising journey started off with a 10 mile sponsored walk, progressing through the years to a 16 mile walk and in 2016 we completed a 26 mile walk raising £1930.00. We also continue to support Blooming Monday, with each year getting brighter and brighter.

Other fundrasing we have done, includes, raffles, donating money instead of sending xmas cards, and requesting donations instead of birthday presents. 

Christmas 2016 saw us getting involved with the local pantomime who kindly donated the evenings takings, which along with a raffle we organised raised £955.00. 

2017 started off with Blooming Monday and the theme bright wigs!! As I am typing this we are organising a cake
 sale on the 17th May for all our clients and staff, and as we all like eating cake I am sure we will do well. May 28th one of our nurses will be running the Edinburgh marathon, for which we all wish her the best of luck. 

Without the support of our lovely clients we would not have been able to have raised over £13,000 since we started, so a big thank you to them. 

Kerry Rigby