AN Evesham man is running the London marathon in memory of a close friend who passed away last year.

Dan Middlehurst will be running the famous 26-mile on April 28 to remember Evesham man Oli Pagett, who struggled with Bipolar Disorder and took his own life in June last year at the age of 26.

Mr Middlehurst is now aiming to raise £1,500 for the mental health charity YoungMinds in memory of him.

Mr Middlehurst said: “Oli didn’t speak much about his mental health to me, I only knew bits and pieces.

“But I believe if there was less stigma around confronting mental health issues at school, it could have helped him later. If people are encouraged to talk about their mental health from a young age, they might find it easier to open up and seek help as adults.

“I wanted to find a mental health charity to support after Oli died. He loved running so it was the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to him and raise awareness of such an important cause.

“I’m supporting YoungMinds because they promote early intervention for mental health issues, and campaign to improve wellbeing in schools, which is key to reducing the stigma of mental health and creating a safe environment for students to talk about their mental health.”

His friend’s death also made Mr Middlehurst realise the importance of opening up and talking about his own mental health, and being there for friends who may also be going through a hard time.

Now Mr Middlehurst wants to spread the message to young people who are struggling to open up to someone they trust rather than struggle in silence.

Emma Thomas, chief executive at YoungMinds, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Dan for taking on the huge challenge of the marathon to fundraise for us and for bravely speaking out to encourage young people to seek help if they’re struggling.

“Young people are under huge pressures, and if their mental health begins to deteriorate, it can be far too hard to get the right support.

“That’s why we’ve been campaigning for a new era for mental health support for young people, as well ensuring wellbeing is made a focus of the education system.”

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