Epic walk to raise awareness of mental health

Teacher Stuart Jessop is on 800 mile trek - and on a mission to get people talking

Epic walk to raise awareness of mental health
31 October 2013

A Cambridge teacher is walking 800 miles to raise awareness of mental health problems.

Stuart Jessup (pictured right) is trekking the Welsh coast, from Chepstow to Chester, with his faithful springer spaniel, Poppy.

It is not the first time that 53 year old Stuart has tackled such a long distance. Beginning in the winter of 2011, he spent eight months walking 2,600 miles round the coastline of England.

Stuart, a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust service-user who has suffered from depression, said: “I love doing these walks. There’s no doubt that walking has always helped my depression and I do them to raise awareness of the fact that one in four people will experience a mental issue during their lifetime.

“It’s going to take me until early December, but with every step that Poppy and I take we will be raising money for charity and seeing some incredible coastlines and scenery.

“People often ask me why I do these walks in the winter, but it is because that is when incidents of depression and anxiety are at their highest. It’s not just down to the dark evenings or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it’s because of the stress that Christmas can have on relationships and finances and the pressure to feel happy can be just too much for people. 

“It always seems to me that this time of year is the most appropriate time to highlight these issues.”

Stuart’s walks raise money for mental health charities, SANE and Anxiety UK. His England walk raised £14,000 and so far his Wales walk has raised nearly £500.

On his return to Cambridge, Stuart will take up a post as a mathematics teacher at Netherhall School.

From time to time Stuart’s wife, Kate joins him for a few days and together they have already completed 300 miles.

Stuart decided to undertake this walk after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. After receiving treatment earlier this year he has been given the all-clear.

Stuart said: “When Kate goes home it’ll just be Poppy and me, but one of the best things about the walks I’ve done is meeting so many different people. When I’m asked about why I’m doing these walks people often open up about their own mental health issues. For me, it just goes to prove that the one-in-four statistic is absolutely right.”

Stuart’s previous walk around England attracted the attention of TV and radio presenter Clare Balding who recorded an interview with him along the Yorkshire coast for her BBC Radio 4 programme, Ramblings. On World Mental Health Day this year – 10 October - he met with Welsh government’s health minister Mark Drakeford in Swansea (pictured above, left) as the government pledged to support people with mental health issues.

Anyone who wants to follow Stuart’s progress can visit www.walkingontheedge.org.uk which gives details of how to sponsor him via his Just Giving page, and his daily Facebook blog about his trek.
His progress can also be tracked via his Twitter account @waleswalk


For more information please contact:

Andy Burrows
Communications Manager
E andy.burrows@cpft.nhs.uk
T 01223 726767


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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