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Liverpool teacher to race Santa with a 10k run on Christmas Day, while raising awareness of Preventing Suicide in young people

“I will head out about 1am Christmas Day morning before Santa comes.”

Camell Laird FC Coach and PE Teacher, Phill Hayward has just reached the 100th day of his most ambitious challenge to date.

Prolific fundraiser, Phill has been running 10km a day since 1st September 2020 and will continue to run 10km every day, for an entire calendar year, including Christmas Day and New Years Eve.

Raising money for Wirral Mind, Phill has drawn on his own mental health struggles to embark on this challenge.

“Earlier in the year I virtually ran/walked from Newcastle to Bournemouth, and all the premier league grounds in England. I covered over 700 miles and raised money to support Wirral Mind.

“I think it’s important to show strength and support people who are experiencing mental health issues, especially young people. By doing these challenges it shows that simple acts, such as getting out and about when you feel low, can make a huge difference.”

This week saw the Everton season ticket holder and fan ambassador hit a milestone, reaching 1,000km’s and 100 consecutive days running. But it’s not been plain sailing. With persistent rain and localised flooding, Phill’s 101st, 10k would have been better as a swim.

Liverpool teacher to race Santa with a 10k run on Christmas Day, while raising awareness of Preventing Suicide in young people

Phill’s aim is to help support as many people as he can and to keep pushing himself to raise vital funds to support bereaved families as well as those suffering in silence.

“I am hoping to reach and inspire people to speak out and know it’s ok to talk.

“I have suffered from depression and I have always kept a lot in. I think it’s dangerous to do. There are so many people out there who will listen and support you. I want to show people that talking is a good thing.”

UK charity, Samaritans statistics show that suicide rates in England and Wales for those aged under 25 are rising at an alarming rate. The rate for females, under 25 has increased by 93.8% since 2012, to its highest level in 2019.

Despite his day job and active lifestyle, 10k a day is a tough challenge for anyone to take on. Phill said: “ At first it was tough mentally more than physically. I have a busy life with work and family and friends, so finding time to complete the runs and make sure I have enough recovery time to avoid injury was difficult.”

A year-long challenge is a big commitment however, Phill has received lots of support, not only from friends and family, but also from Everton Football Club, a number of first team players and from Wirral Mind.

Based on Chester Street, Birkenhead, Wirral Mind provides services to adults in the local community with mental health problems and learning disabilities. Services, such as counselling, drop in sessions, supported housing and befriending have developed in direct response to unmet needs within the local community and are free and open to all.

In 2019, a YouGov poll revealed that ‘over two in five Brits felt stressed during the festive season, while about one in four struggled with anxiety of depression.’ Wirral Mind, affiliated with the national Mind charity, offers a whole host of practical advice, as well as tailored support for those who find Christmastime difficult.

Phill is committed to ensuring the amazing services on offer are highlighted and will continue his challenge to help others access them. Will he be lacing up on Christmas day?

“Yes! On Christmas Eve I will run at 10.30pm, finish within the hour then have an hour’s rest and head out about 1am Christmas Day morning before Santa comes.”

Phill is keen to help spread awareness of Wirral Mind’s service right across the festive period, and beyond. You can share his progress on Twitter, @haywaphil17 and donate to his justgiving page, supporting Wirral Mind, here.

Written by Kate Reilly James

READ MORE: Virtual Liverpool Santa Dash To Support Charities And Food Banks

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