Wyre scouts launch a county-wide challenge to pay tribute to former explorer who died by suicide

Five Scouting groups across the Wyre came together in September to complete a new ‘The Lucas Challenge’ expedition to spread awareness of mental health issues and suicide.
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Lucas Backhouse, from Garstang, Lancashire, was a member of the 1st Garstang Scout group, along with his three brothers, when he took his own life in October 2021. He was 18-years- old.

28 scouts and explorers, aged 10 to 18 years, from Garstang, Great Ecclestone, Fleetwood, Thornton Cleveleys and Carleton took part in the overnight camp in Waddecar near Garstang. They had to carry and cook their own food, set up camp and navigate almost 25km of local terrain through checkpoints to complete the challenge.

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Lucas’ family joined the scout groups during the campfire to hear Lucas’ story and share ideas for those struggling with their mental health and where to go for help.

Lucas (left) with his brother (Isaac) collecting the Chief Scout Platinum Award. Photo: Angela BackhouseLucas (left) with his brother (Isaac) collecting the Chief Scout Platinum Award. Photo: Angela Backhouse
Lucas (left) with his brother (Isaac) collecting the Chief Scout Platinum Award. Photo: Angela Backhouse

Nicky Dennison, District Explorer Scout Commissioner explained: “I’m so proud of all the scouts and explorers stepping up to The Lucas Challenge on the back of such tragedy. Knowing how to look after our mental health and where to go for practical help is so important for all young people.

“We are delighted that we could strengthen the mental health message across the Wyre district so scouts could get together to walk, talk and learn new skills – doing what scouts do best.”

Ahead of the challenge, Chief Scout himself, Bear Grylls also offered his support for The Lucas Challenge: “Your kindness and incredible achievements inspire me every day. I want your explorers/scouts to know that every one of them is a shining light. Keep learning, keep helping others and never give up.”

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Angela Backhouse, Lucas’ mum, commented: “Death by suicide is the single cause of death of under 35s in the UK. This is not OK. We feel humbled that the scouts have launched this annual event in memory of Lucas. Lucas loved all things scouting and experienced many happy hours on camps and the scout hut with his friends. No family should have to deal with the loss of a child through suicide and if we can help just one other young person get support when it is needed, that has to be a good thing.”

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2. The Backhouse family have raised over £20,000 for the charity Papyrus – prevention of young suicide https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/just4boys

3. PAPYRUS is a UK-wide charity with offices in north west England, south west England, West Midlands, London, Northern Ireland, north Wales, south Wales, and Scotland.

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4. Suicide is the biggest killer of people aged 35 and under in the UK (Papyrus)

5. Over 200 schoolchildren every year in the UK are lost to suicide (Papyrus)

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6. In Sept 2023 the Government have pledged to invest £2.3 billion extra a year into mental health services, and have set out their aim in the NHS Long Term Plan for an additional 345,000 children and young people to access NHS-funded mental health support by 2024.

7. Lucas achieved his Chief Scout Platinum Award, aged 16 years.