England Athletics Hall Of Fame 2016 – Another First For The Mental Health Ambassadors!

Clare Addy

Last month my fellow Farsley Flyer and England Athletics Mental Health Ambassador Debbie kindly contributed an article regarding the MHA scheme and its ambition to achieve heightened issue awareness and increased inclusion for runners experiencing mental health problems across England.


A short while ago I was absolutely delighted when, as a thank you for lending our voluntary support as MHA’s a selection of the group were invited to attend the England Athletics Hall of Fame awards 2016 on Saturday 15th October.


Held yearly at the NEC, the awards are a celebration of some of our finest sportsmen and community contributors: From gold medal winning sporting celebrities to volunteers who have taken it upon themselves in a supportive/voluntary capacity to make a difference to the lives of others through athletics.


The event is a fabulous opportunity to acknowledge the great and the good in every area of English Athletics.


Not only do the awards celebrate the achievements of these talented individuals, but also acknowledge the challenges many have to overcome to reach the reward of winning not only accolades, but hearts and minds too. This aspect was something that felt poignant when considering my own journey and the presence of the MHA group that evening.


Having lived experience of mental health issues, it is always heartening to hear the stories of others who have overcome difficulties to achieve and succeed on so many different levels


The invite in itself felt like a massive step forward for the scheme and, the fact we had several representatives attending, seated alongside the very lovely England Athletics team signified how important the organisation feel our contributions are to their mission – a meaningful mission to ensure everyone has the opportunity to experience running and athletics.


It also presented the opportunity to meet and thank Liz Purbrick (National Disability Manager) for her on-going efforts in establishing and evolving the scheme. Liz works diligently to ensure we can reach the people that will benefit from support through a network of engaged and enthused Ambassadors across England.


The evening was truly electrifying, having caught up with my fellow ambassadors as proceedings drew to a close it was clear that we all left feeling thoroughly inspired and proud to be part of something that has the power to change people’s lives for the better through support and sport!


It feels like this is just the beginning of what is set to be a massively invaluable scheme that enables so many people experiencing mental health difficulties to feel supported, and enjoy running in a way that feels comfortable, with the potential to make a positive difference to their lives.


Believe me, once you engage with exercise, particularly group exercise it is likely to help you feel better about not just yourself or your situation but the people around you as well.


It’s a matter of finding what feels right for you – there will always be challenges but there are some brilliant individuals and initiatives – such as the England Athletics Mental Health Ambassador Scheme – that are there to help.


If any part of this piece resonated with you – please do look into the Mental Health Ambassador scheme – whether to seek assistance from your local MHA, or get involved and spread the word. That would be amazing!


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