For most, meeting a member of the royal family is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
But that’s not the case for two Blackpool paramedics, who met Prince Harry for the second time last week.
Dan Farnworth and Rich Morton, who last year trekked from Scarborough to Blackpool to highlight mental health issues within the emergency services, joined Prince Harry in London to kick off this year’s Time to Talk Day.
The event,part of the Heads Together campaign, was aimed at getting the nation talking about mental health, and came four months after Dan and Rich last met Prince Harry, as well as Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, to mark World Mental Health Day.
Dad-of-four Dan, 31, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after attending a call involving the death of a child, said: “I spent about four months off work, and had counselling throughout that time. Doing that, and having time for reflection, helped me a lot.”
Both Dan and Rich, 28, are champions for Mind’s Blue Lights programme,which is calling on emergency workers to open up about the problems and seek help if they need it.
Dan, who lives in Kirkham, added: “One day I thought I’d drop Rich a text to see if he was around for a chat. Within minutes, Rich was calling me. He came straight round to mine and we had a cup of tea and just talked.
“The relief I felt for confiding in Rich overwhelmed me, and I wish I’d done it sooner.
“He reassured me this wasn’t something to be scared of and we talked through my issues, and he helped me figure out what I needed to do.” As well as the pair’s charity work – they plan to run the London Marathon this year too – Dan and Rich have featured in a film released by Heads Together to support Time to Talk Day.
The film is the first in a series that aims to shared conversations to encourage others who may be struggling with their mental health to talk with a friend, family member, or colleague.
Sue Baker, director at Time to Change, said: “Mental health problems are common and can affect any one of us, yet too often people are afraid to talk openly about mental health for fear of being judged.
“Time to Talk Day is a chance for everyone to open up about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives.”
Some 92 per cent of emergency service workers reported suffering from stress or low moods, figures collected by the Blue Light programme found, while nearly two thirds had considered leaving their job because of the impact on their health.
Almost half had taken time off because of mental health problems, while a quarter had considered suicide.
“Listening is the most important thing,” Dan added. “It showed me I was never alone.”