Friends of Alex Stern, who disappeared on 11th January in Sonning and was sadly found on 3rd April by Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue (BLSAR), are running 50 miles to raise money for BLSAR and to raise awareness of mental ill-health and suicide in young men.
On October 10th a group of Alex’s close friends (Will Hicks, Will Drew, James Hulme, Patrick Timmis and Henry Maclellan) will pull on their running shoes and run from Sonning (where Alex was last seen) along the river on a 50 mile route back to one of his favourite Chelsea pubs. Alongside the run, James and a group of friends will cycle a 78 mile route, teaming up with the runners for the final stretch from Kew to Chelsea. Finally a 3rd group will be joining up at Kew to run the final 10km.
One of the runners and a close friend of Alex, Patrick Timmis, said “through the long and painful months after Alex’s disappearance, BLSAR worked tirelessly in their quest to find Alex, searching the river despite incredibly difficult conditions with almost continual flooding. This was a major operation over hundreds of man-hours with helicopters, drones, sonar, dogs and divers scouring the river in Sonning where Alex was last seen alive. Made up of an army of volunteers, we want to recognise their fantastic work and give something back to allow them to continue to help find other missing people.”
As well as the fundraiser, sidekick, a nonprofit community based mental health organisation founded by one of Alex’s cousins, is running a month long campaign ‘we all know an alex’ to encourage positive conversations to help prevent suicide. The event, which begun on World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th will run for a month until the event on October 10th, which is also World Mental Health Awareness day.
James Shrager, co-creator of sidekick, said “sadly, 18 people a day take their own lives in the UK, and suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45. This needs to change. We want to help promote awareness of mental ill-health and encourage others who might be facing similar battles to speak up and get the help they need before it’s too late.”
Donations can be made at https://localgiving.org/fundraising/stern50/