Updated: Jun 16
Author: Dan Gabriel
So I first met Lee (Founder of Walk and Talk MMH) back in October 2019 when I took part in the Fulham to Reading walk. On speaking with him throughout the walk I could see the passion he had to make this a success. After finishing that walk I said to Lee that won't be the last walk that I do.
At the end of November I was looking at walks that I could organise in the Midlands. On speaking with a friend who works for the National League, he mentioned that both Chesterfield and Notts County were both good clubs at supporting community events. So I checked the fixtures and lo and behold they were playing each other on Saturday 1st Feb! I checked with Lee and he was free.
I managed to get in contact with both clubs and they were keen in supporting us. Things were happening and when we began to hit social media in January we were getting people wanting to get involved. We had two Reading fans, a Fulham fan, an Arsenal fan, a Man Utd fan, a Derby fan, a Rotherham fan and most importantly we had fans of both Chesterfield and Notts County. Great numbers.
The walk started at 10pm but we met up earlier for a quick pint and brief chat, getting to know one another. The first 5 miles flew by, everyone was getting on great and most importantly everyone was talking. This was massive, MEN opening up and talking about mental health. We got to the early hours of Saturday morning and the pace was good but my god was it cold. We were lucky as we had no rain but walking in the open with what felt like gale force winds, the temperature dropped and was taking its toll, but spirits were still high and conversations were still flowing.
At approx 5am we arrived in Mansfield and made our way to the cemetery where we had a quick stop. This is the resting place of an ex Army friend of Steedy and I, who tragically took her own life in 2009. I had mixed emotions remembering the good times and the sad times. After we left the cemetery we made our way out of Mansfield through a stunning little village when the sun began to rise. Once the sun had risen we all had one thing on our minds....... Breakfast!!! So I checked google maps and guided us to a Wetherspoons in Hucknall. We enjoyed a well earned rest for about an hour. We knew that the bulk of the walk had been completed and the end was in sight.
Off we set again about 09.30 for the final 8 miles. But as like in the middle of the night, the wind decided to pick up, which made it tough, along with the hills. The last 5 miles was very up and down and it took grit and determination for everyone to finish the walk. We finally arrived at Notts County at 1pm.
15 hours later we arrived at our destination. In that time 9 men under the age of 45 would have committed suicide in the UK. That statistic is too high. Walking with Lee, Dean, Shawn, Sam, Paul S, Paul M, Steedy, both John's and Wendy was an absolute pleasure. I only knew a couple before the walk but have made some good friends for life.