WHO IS THE #BATONOFHOPEUK?
Mike was a journalist – for more than 36 years, he reported on headline stories across the world, notching up hundreds of appearances on the BBC and Sky News. Some of his riskier assignments saw him covering masked rioters looting in Manchester, and the frontlines of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, none of these experiences prepared him for the ordeal of losing his 31-year-old son Ross in February 2021. Ross had battled depression for a decade when he died; he left a young son, a fiancée, and a heartfelt request that his family campaign for better mental health support. Mike is committed to honouring Ross’ final wish.
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Andrea has many years’ experience in politics, creating policy for Children’s Services as a councillor for the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames; she also held the position of Cabinet Member for Children, Youth and Adult Learning. She has lost two close friends through suicide: Dan, aged 23, and Clare, a 39-year-old young mum of 2. She has a deep understanding of adolescent depression, and first-hand experience of mental health issues within her own family.
Emma is CEO of a British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy accredited professional counselling and training organisation. The Counselling Foundation is a registered charity that believes there should be no barriers to safe and ethical counselling support. Emma started her career in social work followed by a long period in consulting, culminating in many years as a KPMG partner. She has now returned to working in the mental health sector where her passion is both professional and personal, having lost her best friend to suicide when she was 16.
Dom is the founder and Creative Director at London production company Hide & Seek. His firm’s mantra is Social Change Through Film; since its founding in 2018, Dom has directed international productions on a range of social subjects including addiction, healthcare, humanitarian crises and mental health. Dom’s passion for suicide and mental health issues is personal – as a young man he suffered bouts of depression which twice led to life-saving interventions.
Jenny is the CEO & Founder of the Lucy Rayner Foundation – a charity set up in Surrey after the death of her daughter Lucy who died by suicide aged 22. The charity raises awareness about the signs and symptoms of mental ill health in young people. Jenny also heads the Surrey Suicide Bereavement Service as she works for a world where there is zero suicide.
Tanya pioneers youth mental wellbeing awareness – she is the founder of a youth-led peer community Championing Youth Minds. She has lived with depression from a young age, and has experienced suicidal crisis and loss herself. Navigating mental health support in the South Asian community has been a challenge, so she advocates for mental health education and suicide prevention to recognise the intersectionality of identity and cultural factors.
Alice is an MHFA Instructor who uses her platform to champion wellbeing. With lived experience of bulimia, anxiety and depression, Alice shares her knowledge through the MHFA courses she leads. As a Board Member of My Black Dog, a charity that offers anonymous peer-to-peer mental health support in England and Wales, Alice promotes happiness by living positively and supporting others to do the same.
George is a Director at Optimal Minds – a psychological strategy consultancy – and a public speaker on mental health and suicide prevention. He first experienced mental health challenges, self-harm and suicidal ideation as a 14-year-old, and attempted to take his life whilst experiencing a drug-induced psychotic episode as a 23-year-old. He now hosts his own mental health show – ‘Sully’s Open Conversation’ – opening up and normalising discussion about mental health.
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Lindsey is CEO of Business2Schools – a charity that collects unwanted tech and furniture donations from businesses, and moves it to more than 4,600 state schools rather than see it thrown away. She is passionate about helping prevent suicide – she found her father, who had taken his own life, when she was just 3½ years-old.
Stuart is a senior health economist, epidemiologist, and health policy expert specialising in the NHS and public health. He lives with and suffers from severe clinical depression, and is a passionate mental health advocate and campaigner – both a mental health and suicide prevention first aider.