Friends Sophie Morter and Jess Martin – and border terrier Toby – have set themselves an uphill battle to raise the profile of two causes very close to their hearts.
The pair are climbing 10 mountains in 10 months, to raise awareness of charities CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) and PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide UK).
Jess lost her brother, Phil Martin, when he took his own life aged 25, in 2015.
Sophie, who lives in St Annes and is a teacher and carer for young men in care in Blackpool, lost close friend Robert Wharton, last year – he took his own life, aged 31.
Sophie said: “Both had battled with various mental health issues over the years, but were positive people and always had smiles on their faces.
“There were no indications they were having any kinds of suicidal thoughts or they were struggling. They hid their turmoils from family and fiends, and it was a massive shock to everyone when their deaths happened.”
The friends have so far conquered Mam Tor, Moel Famou and Coniston Old Man. Among the other peaks they will climb are Kinder Scout, Helvellyn and Snowdon.
Sophie, 26, who is originally from Cheshire – where Jess lives – but moved to St Annes several years ago, said: “Last year, myself and a big group of friends climbed Scafell Pike to raise money for CALM and Jess and her parents, along with Toby, did the Yorkshire Peaks for PAPYRUS, and we have pledged to do something each year, to help raise awareness.
“We’re not doing this challenge to raise money, but if people could donate to either of the charities via their websites, it would be amazing. We are fighting to encourage men to open up about their feelings, and for others to take into consideration the feelings and emotions of those close to them – helping them to talk.
“We hope we can dispel the stigma that surrounds men not being able to be open about their emotions, having to ‘man up’ and we would like to see more people talking about the high number of suicides in the UK. We believe there is not enough help out there for people having suicidal thoughts, or struggling in life. Suicide is the leading cause of young deaths in the UK.”
The pair are backing a campaign promoted by CALM, calling for a government minister to take on official responsibility for suicide prevention and bereavement support.
Visit thecalmzone.net or papyrus-ok.org
* Helpline number: 0800 0684141.