Gym pair take on epic 16-hour March for Movember to raise mental health awareness

Luke Read, left, and Michael Jennings carried out an epic 16-hour March for Movember, visiting as many war memorials as...

Luke Read, left, and Michael Jennings carried out an epic 16-hour March for Movember, visiting as many war memorials as possible to pay their respects Picture: AIRBORNE FIT - Credit: AIRBORNE FIT

Two trainers from the Airborne Fit gym near Ipswich took on an epic 16-hour challenge to help raise awareness of men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

Michael Jennings, left, and Luke Read carried out an epic 16-hour March for Movember Picture: AIRBORNE FIT

Michael Jennings, left, and Luke Read carried out an epic 16-hour March for Movember Picture: AIRBORNE FIT - Credit: AIRBORNE FIT

Former paratrooper Luke Read and Michael Jennings, from the gym at Brightwell Barns, carried out their 38-mile March for Movember to support the month-long fundraising drive.

The pair have so far raised more than £2,000 and donations are still coming in via their fundraising page.

Ex-Parachute Regiment soldier Mr Read, joint founder of Airborne Fit, said: “Our main aim was to promote mental health and how it’s good to talk.

“Especially during this year, lockdown has had an effect on a lot of people. We have raised a lot of money, but the most important thing for us is to raise awareness.”

Mr Read served two tours in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2020, and said: “I lost friends along the way, and some friends were injured and some suffer with mental health.

MORE: Former paratrooper runs, cycles and kayaks length of UK for Mollie’s wheelchair fund“Movember as an organisation does a lot to raise mental health awareness and we wanted to be part of it.”

The pair carried out their march on Remembrance Sunday, a day which is very close to Mr Read’s heart, and walked past as many war memorials as possible, to honour the lives lost during conflict.

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They set off from the gym at 4.30am, because there were 4,303 male deaths by suicide last year in the UK.

They carried out 16 hours and nine minutes of walking, to mark 16.9 deaths per 100,000, the highest since 2000.

On their route, they stopped at five memorials at Barrack Square in Martlesham, Rendlesham, Woodbridge, Kesgrave and Christchurch Park.

MORE: Runners join in MoRun through Ipswich parkMaking the challenge even more gruelling, they carried the equivalent of three quarters of their body weight between them, 30kg extra each. This was because men accounted for three-quarters of suicide deaths last year.

Airborne Fit gym members also supported the challenge. The gym asked members to walk, run or cycle to their nearest war memorial on Remembrance Sunday to pay their respects.

Andrew Jay, who founded the gym together with Mr Read, said: “Heading out alone or with their families to honour the fallen, we saw members out in their droves.

“This is yet another reason we are so proud of our community. Everyone connected to Airborne Fit understands the foundations and core values we are built on. Members truly believe in our identity.”

To support the two trainer’s Movember fundraising challenge, visit their fundraising page.If you need mental health help and advice, call Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s free 24-hour helpline on 0808 1963494.

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