Sponsored walkers from Biggleswade hit their stride raising money for mental health in Charlotte’s memory

PUBLISHED: 17:03 03 September 2017

The walkers in their custom t-shirts have been fundraising since 2010. Image: Sue Sheppard

The walkers in their custom t-shirts have been fundraising since 2010. Image: Sue Sheppard

Sue Sheppard

A Biggleswade resident continues to keep her daughter’s memory alive after mental illness claimed her life by organising sponsored walks to raise money for a related charity.

Sue raises funds in memory of her daughter Charlotte, who died in 2009. Image: Sue SheppardSue raises funds in memory of her daughter Charlotte, who died in 2009. Image: Sue Sheppard

The latest organised by Sue Shepphard saw walkers Richard Waite, 72, and Sandra Sparrow, 70, take on the Greenlands Ridge Walk, a 40-mile path starting at Leighton Buzzard which they split into five legs.

Sue, who has arranged a fundraising walk annually for the last seven years, joined them for the last leg from Sandy to Gamlingay last Friday.

This year alone the three walkers from Biggleswade have raised £850 for the charity Rethink Mental Illness, which helps provide services and advice to people suffering from mental illnesses.

The cause is dear to Sue’s heart because her daughter Charlotte’s life was cut short at the age of 19, when an act of self-harm at her Sandy home in 2009 went tragically wrong.

Starting in 2010, Sue has now raised around £28,000 for mental health charities through her annual walk as well as fun days and sales.

Support for this year’s effort has poured in from friends, family and even strangers they met on their travels.

“We met a lady out walking her dogs, who gave us directions,” said Sue, who is 61.

“We looked at our JustGiving page later, and she had actually donated!”

Earlier this year Sue won the Central Bedfordshire Fundraiser of the Year award for her work – but continues to top up the total. In July, a car boot sale she ran at G&M Growers in Biggleswade raised more than £500.

Clare Keeling from Rethink Mental Illness said: “The money Sue raises helps us support thousands of people a year who are severely affected by mental illness. Her generous support allows us to provide services, groups and advice for everyone living with mental illness.

“Over the years Sue has done so many incredible things to support us – including fun days, car boot sales, barbecues and, of course, her annual walk. We want to say a huge thank you.”

Sue is motivated to give others the support that she feels her daughter Charlotte didn’t have.

Despite the teenager , “uffering from borderline personality disorder, Sue told the Comet her daughter still came across as “bubbly”.

She said: “There was internal turmoil. But she was so kind, and loved animals and children.

“She was fun – all I can say is that the illness blighted her life.”

Now, believing that not enough support is offered to those with mental illnesses, Sue wants to ensure that others can get appropriate care.

“I just want to raise awareness about how mental illness affects people’s lives,” she said.

“It affected Charlotte, and mine too as I was trying to keep her safe. I feel like I’m doing something to keep Charlotte’s memory alive.”

Sue’s JustGiving page can be found here .

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