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Charity effort in memory of gentle nephew
TWO men will be running and kayaking across the Scottish Highlands in memory of a young man who died after a struggle with mental illness.
Phil Ward, aged 42, and Antony Griffiths, 43, of West Malvern, want to raise £10,000 for mental health charity Mind with the 74-mile challenge from Fort William to Inverness in June.
Their effort is to commemorate Al May, Mr Ward’s nephew, who died suddenly in December after battling bipolar disorder. Mr May, from Carlisle, had recently completed training as a volunteer advocate for Mind.
The two, along with another friend, Olly Astles-Jones from Oxfordshire, will cover 44 miles in two days across some of Scotland’s mountainous territory, followed by kayaking the length of Loch Ness on the third day.
Mr Ward said: “We’re reasonably fit but not super athletes. We haven’t done so much as a half-marathon before, so we’re training pretty hard.”
He said his nephew was one of the gentlest people he has known, who never had a bad word to say about anyone.
“Things were never easy for Al, but he worked hard to drag himself out of some dark places and was very much on the way to a more fulfilling life. He was studying towards a career in mental health, because he felt he had a lot to offer those who needed to support.”
Mr Ward runs a company making upmarket radiators, while Mr Griffiths is an illustrator and works part-time for Malvern Hills Conservators managing woodlands and hills.
They are being helped by Malvern College, where Mr Ward’s wife Adela works, which is providing discounted gym membership and training.