Shaun Mayall (10) from Cockermouth sadly lost his dad, Andy, to suicide in 2014.
One day when Shaun was dwelling on how much he missed his dad at school recently, his teacher, Mrs Winter at Fairfield Primary, asked him if he’d thought about doing something to celebrate the memory of his dad. Shaun was inspired and spent the October half-term brainstorming ideas, eventually settling on a plan to run 10K.
The numbers are clearly important to Shaun: “I decided to run 10K because I’m 10-years-old. My target is to raise £101 because £100 just doesn’t look so good!”
Shaun’s challenge is expected to take place on or around Thursday 10 December on school grounds. He explained, “Everyday at school, all the children run or walk a 1K route that is marked out around the playground. I always try to do extra laps because I know that running and exercise is important. The furthest I have run is the 5K Workington Park Run in 2019, so I will need to really prepare for the 10K. I rode for 20 miles on my bike at the weekend with my friend, Nate, and I will do some 5K practice runs with my aunt Rachel.”
Shaun and his mum, Helen, recognise the support they received following Andy’s tragic death and Shaun was keen to support the charity Suicide Bereavement Support (SBS). “My dad took his own life, so I wanted to help other people who have lost someone in their family who they really love. Mum explained that SBS have groups across Cumbria where people can meet and talk to each other about their feelings. It’s only a small charity and I wanted to fundraise for them because the way that they help people is super important.”
Why Shaun is fundraising for Suicide Bereavement Support
To put it in perspective, the heart-breaking statistic of losing someone each week on average to suicide in Cumbria is greater than those lost to road traffic accidents. Having operated under the wing of national charity Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide for nine years, SBS was founded over a year ago and builds on that experience to focus on offering a truly local service to people living in Cumbria and surrounding areas including North Lancashire and South Scotland.
SBS usually offers four self-help support groups across Cumbria, where those left behind by suicide can meet with other people in a similar position, although meetings are currently being held virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions. The groups provide an opportunity to listen, to share, to gain understanding and to connect with others. A helpline service and private forum is also available and is run by volunteers who have been personally affected by suicide.
Doing his dad proud
Shaun was only three years old when his dad died, leaving Helen to explain the unthinkable to a child who was too young to understand. Suicide is challenging for most of us to comprehend, but, as time passes, Shaun is open about his feelings and understands more as each day goes by. He remembers his dad with great fondness: “My dad was really nice and kind – and he loved chess. I was a bit young to play chess with him, but I love chess now. I think he’d be really proud of me.”
Shaun recollects that his dad was a huge fan of the Beano: “Dad’s favourite character was Denis the Menace, so I’m going to complete the whole run dressed in Denis’ stripey shirt and a black wig!”
Shaun also has a poignant message for others who have been bereaved by suicide: “People like me should know that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. I feel really sad about my dad, but that doesn’t stop me from doing anything that’s important to me.”
Can you help Shaun to reach £101?
If you would like to support Shaun’s fundraising challenge, you can donate via JustGiving at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/shauns10K?invite=true.
Support for people touched by suicide
If you are struggling with the death of someone who has taken their own life and need someone to listen to your experience and offer you support, please do get in touch. You can call the SBS helpline on 07572 975 721 (John) or 07896 703 757 (Karan). You can also email [email protected] , or you can visit www.sbs.org.uk or Facebook and Twitter at @CumbriaSBS.