Cyclists across the region are being urged to get on their bikes in aid of a North East suicide prevention charity.
The Stokesley Charity Bike Ride, which takes place on May 14th, is now in its 25th year. The event will raise funds for 2023’s chosen charity the Headlight Project, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide prevention across the region.
This will be the final year for the ride and cyclists are being urged to get involved to make it the most successful event ever.
Suzanne Julian, Headlight Project operations manager, said: “We are honoured to be named as the chosen charity for the last ever Stokesley Charity Bike Ride.
“As well as our work on suicide prevention, we also work with those bereaved by suicide, and this will enable us to continue to help people who have been impacted, through our counselling and therapeutic support services.”
Julia Haigh has taken part in the ride for more than 20 years. Last year, she asked organisers if the 2023 ride could be in aid of the Headlight Project, after her daughter, Naomi, took her own life in 2021.
Julia said: “The event has always been a highlight for me, and even more so when my children Naomi and Oliver and husband Christopher started to get involved – it encouraged our family enjoyment of cycling together.
“Inspired by her childhood cycling and taking part in the Stokesley Ride, Naomi cycled from Lands’ End to John O’Groats with her close friend, who is coming up from London to join us on May 14th.”
“Paul has worked so very hard over the years, and we have enjoyed supporting local charities. It is such a wonderful community event in Stokesley.
Speaking of the support the family has received from Headlight Project, Julia said: “Since Naomi died by suicide, the three of us have been helped hugely by the support groups and one-to-one counselling sessions offered by the charity.”
Race organiser Paul Mackintosh added: “Over the last 25 years the Stokesley Ride has raised more than £150,000 for local charities, which is something we can all be so proud of and I’m hoping we can add a record-busting final amount this year for the Headlight Project.
“During last year’s ride, I was speaking with Julia, who along with her family has supported the Stokesley Ride for well over 20 years, about the loss of her daughter and she asked if we could support the Headlight Project.
“One of the reasons the event has been so special to me is seeing children, like Naomi and Oliver, get into cycling and turning into ‘seasoned cyclists’ – it is priceless.”
Speaking about the final Stokesley Charity Bike Ride, Paul said: “Everyone has played a huge part in the success story of the Stokesley Rides.
“I could not have done any of the last 25 years without the amazing people who help me including my brother-in-law Chris, best friend Steve, the first aiders, Marshalls Scouts and Gary and Tom Hudson from our sponsor RPS Pallets.”
The Headlight Project was set up by Catherine Devereux in 2019 following the suicide of her husband, popular Teesside businessman Russ Devereux. Since then, it has raised money to support grieving families, as well as campaigning to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide prevention.
The last ever Stokesley Charity Bike Ride takes place on May 14th and takes a 30-mile leisurely route through North Yorkshire, starting and finishing at Stokesley Town Hall.
Riders of all abilities are welcome and asked to pay £10 to participate.