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Perthshire woman rallies round for mental health charity after friend’s suicide

William Wells and Becky Gunn.
William Wells and Becky Gunn.

A Perthshire woman has launched a fundraiser for a leading mental health charity after losing her friend to suicide.

Becky Gunn of Inchture joined forces with holiday accommodation provider, Guardswell Farm to raise funds for Penumbra.

Becky organised a luxury Christmas raffle to support the national charity and its work in suicide prevention.

She said: “While working on a project with William Wells, a joiner from Forfar, he told me that he’d recently started the Someone’s Hero Facebook group.

“He did it to raise awareness of male suicide and mental health in his local area, after a close friend committed suicide last year.

“Having also lost my best friend to suicide a couple of years ago, and after such a difficult year for so many, I felt it was important to put on this event.”

She added: “Hopefully, people can have some fun and also know that they can help loved ones in crisis, by giving them the details of people who can help and support them locally.”

Guardswell Farm were keen to get involved in the fundraiser, with some of the team knowing of the impact of poor mental health.

The team therefore offered its website as a platform for the sale of online raffle tickets.

Anna Lamotte of Guardswell Farm said: “This year has been a particularly challenging one for people from all backgrounds.

“Some of the team at Guardswell know about the effects of poor mental health, in varying degrees, and this year has really pushed the boundaries of some of those we love.

“When the local community were keen to organise a charity fundraiser, and we couldn’t support it in a physical sense as we would usually hope to, the idea of an online raffle seemed just the ticket.”

She added: “Hopefully this means that the raffle is more accessible to all and raises as much money as possible for a good cause.”

Kenny Thom of Penumbra says the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated what is already a difficult time for people struggling with their mental health.

He believes mental health discourse should be encouraged, with suicide being a leading cause of death among young people and men.

“The pandemic has been daunting for everyone, but there’s a real risk that people already living with mental ill health could find themselves at a crisis point”, he said, “so that’s why we’ve launched our #HoldTheHope campaign this winter.

“We’ve been blown away by the support from Becky, the team at Guardswell and the wider community.

“At any given time, one in 20 of us is experiencing thoughts of suicide. It remains a subject that we find difficult to talk about, but as a leading cause of death among young people and with men in their middle years particularly vulnerable, it is vital that we open up.

“The one thing we can all do is talk openly about suicide and encourage conversations around mental wellbeing.”

He added: “The raffle is a great example of the community coming together to shine a light on honest conversations around suicide and looking after our mental health in the same way that we look after our physical health.”

Penumbra helps around 1800 adults and young people across Scotland every week with their mental health.

The raffle coincides with the charity’s launch of its #HoldTheHope campaign which focusses on suicide prevention and crisis support.

Raffle tickets can be purchased online on the Guardswell Farm website and in person at Olly Bobbins of Inchture.

The draw will take place on December 18.

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