A Mental Health Awareness Gala has raised over £14,000 for the Salisbury Samaritans and The Lions Barber Collective – a Bristol-based charity that trains barbers to recognise symptoms of ill mental health.
After three families close to Lucie Jones lost their sons to suicide, she decided to take action to tackle the taboo subject of mental health and suicide.
“I love to organise events so I decided to hold a charity gala. Mental health is hugely important to me because I not only have friends who have suffered family losses due to mental health issues, but I also have friends who are suffering now and need to be heard,” explained Lucie.
The evening saw a variety of speakers share their stories including Craig Vye, an actor and friend of Lee Scott, and Nickkie Blackman, mother of Keiran Mcmenamin, who all shared their emotional experiences of losing a loved one to suicide.
Donna Duffy, a fundraiser for the Lions Barber Collective, and a spokesperson from the Salisbury Samaritans also addressed the audience, raising awareness about the work they do, the importance of tonight’s event and thanking Lucie for her support.
In total, the event raised £14,360 for mental health charities with Goforit Global Investments matching the money raised from ticket sales. 45 businesses donated raffle prizes, including the local Naked Bagel, Wafflemister, George and Dragon pub, and Beckles Beauty Barn to name a few.
The Treblemakers, a band from Salisbury who have supported the Kaiser Chiefs and performed live on Wiltshire Radio, entertained the guests free of charge.
“This event has been a real local effort and I would like to thank the people and businesses of Salisbury. I am so grateful to everyone who has donated raffle prizes. Thank you so much for everyone’s generosity, £3,100 worth of raffle tickets were sold on the night raising more funds for this incredibly important cause,” said Lucie.
The Mayor of Salisbury, Cllr Caroline Corbin attended the event to show her support for a cause she is also passionate about.
“I have come here tonight to support Lucie and she invited me to come along to this event because I am also a mental health advocate.
“To actually have an event here in Salisbury, for this reason, is just amazing to me, and it shows that we are getting more switched on to the fact we need to learn, and be more open, and ask questions. Obviously, sometimes people do hide it better than others when they are struggling, so it is so important to have those conversations,” said Cllr Corbin.
One of the men honoured at the ball was Lee Scott, a 37-year-old actor who lost his life to suicide two years ago.
Speaking to his parents, Ann and Ray Scott said, “We are supporting this event to raise awareness of mental health because we lost our son to suicide. He didn’t suffer any mental health problems as far as we knew. He was very confident, talented, had an amazing family, an amazing job, and he loved his wife and children”.
For Ann and Ray, the key message of the Mental Health Awareness Gala is that mental health can affect anyone.
“Don’t expect that the person who may take their life by suicide, or suffers from mental health, is the person that is just lying in bed never getting up. They can be the most out-there, confident person. Lee was an actor, he was the most confident man you would ever meet.
“People would imagine that someone suffering from ill mental health is curled up in a little ball but they’re not, and that’s what we have to raise awareness of, especially in young men,” said Ann.
“We know that people with mental health issues need help but if there are no signs or anything it is so difficult. There is no type, mental health can affect anyone,” added Ray.
Since the event many who attended told Lucie they have learnt so much from the gala.
“We need to learn the signs to look out for to prevent more people from taking their lives. So many of my guests have said they learnt so much about mental health from the gala dinner and that they’d be more vigilant and ask friends/family more often how they were,” she added.
Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. You can call the Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year free of charge on 116 123.