Musician Brian ‘Nasher’ Nash and actor Josh Bolt who is currently filming a new Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg series for Apple TV, join the ‘96’ Ben Nevis trek to support mental health organisations.
A merry band of walkers from across the city of Liverpool, with the help of other regional guests, have a few weeks ago completed their journey up Ben Nevis proudly promoting their theme of ‘We Walk The Hill Our Way’ with the special aim of commemorating the lives of the 96 Liverpool fans lost at Hillsborough.
Initiated originally by Kirkby-born Liverpool fan Mark Doyle, who wants to remember those who never came home from their sporting journey, he now has the aim of making events like this walk an annual occasion. Mark, who now describes his role in life as traipsing around the Trossachs as his day job, initially set out to encourage 96 others to join him in his quest.
Supported by Ian Golder, a fellow Kopite who was at the Hillsborough game in 1989, the spirit of the walk has also been to raise vital funds and awareness for chosen mental health charities and organisations. Mark and Ian also felt that their organised trek, following all restrictions and guidelines, reflected the ‘long and winding walk’ that many mental health sufferers follow, often hiding their condition rather than reaching out and seeking help. This also linked with the specific mental health implications for everyone involved with the Hillsborough tragedy, both directly, and their families, friends and in the wider community.
The global pandemic meant that Mark, Ian and everyone who became involved had to adapt their plans and also felt an extra surge of energy and support, as they became aware of how much lockdown isolation was affecting the mental health of so many around them, especially young people. Armed with the knowledge that the number of children on the waiting list for psychological health services has risen 128 per cent in the last year, their drive to support organisations who do such important and often unheralded work in our communities intensified.
The walk itself had the memory of the 96 lives lost at Hillsborough at its core, as every participant wore a snowdrop-emblazoned shirt. Once their journey started, the ‘merry mob’ including Reds and Blues alike, supporters from Yorkshire and Manchester, and those who volunteered to bring along the bagpipes to give the event an authentic Scottish feel, experienced every emotion from exhaustion, to joy, but worked as a tight-knit team to complete their ascent.
Organiser Mark Doyle explains:
“Whilst out walking in Glencoe, with Nevis in full view, I was chatting to a pal about the Hillsborough trial, and as the annual official service at Anfield was no longer continuing, I had a dream and vision of encouraging 96 people to join a Ben Nevis memorial walk. Despite initial misgivings in terms of organisation, but with the help of two wonderful people, Ian Golder and Louise McTernan, more than 100 people signed up, and after a discussion about the ongoing growth of mental health issues, we decided a one-off event was just the beginning to help those suffering and in need of help.
We are currently establishing our own foundation and committee for future, related events. I now work in Scotland as a guide after a military career spanning over three decades, but this walk, and everyone who took part and supported it, is something of which I am both grateful for, and immensely proud of.”
Supporting organiser Ian Golder states:
“Mark asked me to be a part of this fantastic event, and of course, I was keen to get involved straight away. Hillsborough is something which is a part of me as I was in the ground: I consider myself lucky to have been relatively unscathed from the events of that day, although I have had my moments. This event, being so respectful in nature, touched a part of my own personal history, which is close to my heart, too.
I am delighted that the walk is providing a morale-boost and financial support for noted mental health charities and teams. It is something as a friendship group we wanted to act upon, having already helped each other through some tough times. Establishing an annual event is now an exciting prospect for us.”
Frankie Goes To Hollywood guitarist, Brian ‘Nasher’ Nash, took part in the Ben Nevis walk and reports:
“In recent years, we have all become aware of mental health problems and we realised that each of us knew at least one person who was struggling, and that was important to us: it just felt timely to act. The fact that some of us know more than one person means that attitudes are changing, that people are reaching out, but there is so much to be done, and we have a long way to go. Lockdown isolation in particular has come to our attention, too. Walking up Ben Nevis was the hardest task I have ever undertaken, but it was nothing compared to the struggle that some people face every day. As a fan of Liverpool Football Club, and a proud member of the local music community, I was honoured to be asked to join in. Our message? Love each other, people: we are all we have.”
Homegrown actor Josh Bolt, lifelong LFC fanatic, and star of television hits such as critically-acclaimed and BAFTA award-winning Last Tango In Halifax and Benidorm, says of his participation:
“I have seen at first hand the effects of mental health issues and so I leapt at the chance of this opportunity to raise both funds for, and awareness of, the work of key mental health charities and to make talking about our mental health part of a much more accepting conversation. Embarrassingly, though, I did not understand how much of a physical challenge Ben Nevis would provide, but the sense of achievement when we reached the top was euphoric. I am lucky to have achieved a lot in my own career so far, but nothing has come close to conquering Nevis. I feel so honoured that so many joined in to support the event as well as being touched by people’s generosity and hope we can continue to raise much needed funds if others are happy to follow our link.”
As all the organising team and participants are enjoying a bit of much-needed rest, they will be back putting together future plans very soon, with much-cherished memories of their Ben Nevis adventure spurring them on to lay foundations for their next endeavours. To date the walk has raised over just over £27,000 for YPAS, FDAMH, SAMH and The Whitechapel Centre.
You can support the team’s efforts by donating directly here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser