‘Sad day – but a fantastic experience’
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
UNBELIEVABLE – that was the response from Ian Tobbell after a huge crowd turned out to support a fundraising walk in memory of his late brother Andrew.
Ian, along with Andrew’s widow Claire, led the 25-mile trek off from Scar Top on Saturday morning.
In perfect conditions, walkers headed from Barney to Middleton-in-Teesdale, via Cotherstone and Eggleston, and back again through Mickleton, Romaldkirk, Cotherstone and into town across the Silver Bridge.
The event was organised after Andrew took his own life last year aged just 48 and money raised will go to the charity ManHealth, which runs a weekly drop-in at The Witham.
Ian said money was still being counted, but the amount raised would “smash” the £5,000 target.
“It was unbelievable. There were people as far as the eye could see. It’s a fantastic town we live in,” he said.
“For the last couple of weeks I was wondering what was going to happen and how it was all going to pan out.
“I think about 85 per cent of those who set off from Scar Top in the morning did the whole thing. People just carried on walking and we got a few more meeting us along the way.”
Due to the chilly conditions, walkers decided to press on rather than stop along the way and risk getting cold.
As a result, they reached Middleton about an hour ahead of schedule and were back in Barney by 5.15pm, where a warm welcome at the cricket club awaited.
“It’s been a sad experience – but a fantastic experience,” added Ian.
“When we got back to the cricket club, I thanked people for turning out on behalf of the family – and said we’ll see you all again next year. It might become an annual event for ManHealth.”
Paul Bannister, director of ManHealth, was joined by other representatives of the charity for the walk.
“It was a great community event. It just shows the power of community – getting together and working together for a cause that has impacted on them all. There was a lot of love for Andrew.”
In addition to the Barney drop-in, ManHealth offers support for men struggling with their mental health in Darlington, Spennymoor and Shildon. Further drop-in sessions are planned at Newton Aycliffe and Willington.
“It is sad that there is no service available to men who are struggling with mental health problems, but nice that we have come along to fill that gap. There is definitely a need for it,” said Mr Bannister.
“It offers are a real chance for men to talk about their emotions. Many of them have never spoken to anybody about how they are feeling.”
The Barnard Castle ManHealth drop-in service meets every Wednesday at The Witham, from 6pm to 8pm.