Chart-topping duo sing praises

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A NOVEL initiative to raise awareness of mental health and prevent teen suicide across Yorkshire has struck a chord with a chart-topping band.

The new I Choose Life (ICL) Foundation, which has been launched by a Sicklinghall woman, is organising a 500-mile walk around the county for its inaugural fundraiser.

And the team has been backed by The Proclaimers - Scottish brothers Craig and Charlie Reid who achieved worldwide fame with their number one hit “I’ Gonna Be (500 Miles)”.

ICL founder Sarah Shearman was invited to meet the double-act as they stopped off in North Yorkshire as part of a year-long world tour so they could hear more about the challenge.

She said: “We set up ICL to support anyone who feels the persistent strains of their life are taking them down.

“Craig and Charlie have a keen interest in mental health and it was great to give them a first-hand insight into our work, and our aims for making a difference to people’s lives.

“They have also thrown their weight behind our walk by enabling us to use their famous ‘500 mile’ song to promote it, for which we are truly grateful.”

The walk will see 46-year-old Sarah and her dog Yume leave Harrogate on Boxing Day.

The 500-mile walk around Yorkshire will finish in the town on January 26.

People with an interest in promoting good mental health are encouraged to join her parts of the walk, which has a £10,000 fundraising target.

Sarah also started the award-winning Autism Angels charity which provides support to children and their families through interaction with horses.

Her trek also takes in Monday January 21, dubbed Blue Monday for being officially classed the most depressing day of the whole year - but also a date to inspire people to take action, and make bold and positive life decisions.

Based in Harrogate, ICL was launched to provide support for anyone who is struggling with the constant challenges life can bring.

These include daily stresses of just getting to work or the kids to school on time and also bullying, divorce and isolation to loss and grief; trauma to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, loneliness and guilt.

Sarah added: “We know these and many more experiences can take their toll on all of us and often lead to our mental health crashing, even though to the outside world we look like we are coping.

“We also know that if people come to us early, especially youngsters, we can support them to make life-changing decisions. That, with a bit of effort, can alter their destination forever.

“The ICL team offers one-to-one sessions, group work, and events to help build up momentum and offer people the chance to get back to enjoying life with a load of awesome people who are on a similar journey and just get it.”

People can walk for themselves or on behalf of a loved one. Some 50 per cent of the funds they raise can be ring-fenced for use for themselves or the loved one(s), community, school or workplace to access the Foundation’s services.

For more information about ICL, and how you can support or join in the walk, please visit www.ichooselifefoundation.com.