Our brilliant Barry community kicked off the first ever fabulous #itsoknottobeok fundraiser with a terrific trek to the top of Pen Y Fan.
Wearing the powerful #itoknottobeok T-Shirts, friends, family, children, and even the odd dog, climbed the iconic mountain to support bereaved Mum Rachel Degaetano.
Rachel’s courageous campaign aimed at setting up a much-needed suicide support centre in our town following the death of seven young men, including her own son, has touched hearts everywhere.
The Sponsored Walk in the beautiful Brecon Beacons on Sunday June 11th was organised by Vicky Gee – and our Barry family quickly raised sponsor money, gave donations and supplied food and drink. These included Richard Avaient, Shannon Higgins, Garry Collins, Tiona Hydrofitness, Joanne Prosser, Andrew Prosser (Jacqui’s Fruit and Veg, High Street) and Mandy Gee.
And it helped. We all made it to the top for a memorable photograph at the summit with the stunning banner made by Jason Rowlands.
Rachel was overwhelmed with the support. She thanked Vicky, her family, friends, those who donated cash, food and drinks, and also paid special tribute to her partner Neil Avaient who has seen her through the best and worst of times.
She said: “I really don’t know where to begin. I think it should be at thank you. Thank you to each and every single one of you that made today possible and that did the Walk with us.”
Rachel, who lost her 21-year-old son Chae in April 2015, will be carrying on the campaigning to raise funds for the Suicide Support Centre.
She needs to hit a target of £85,000 to start the facility, to be named Gobaith (Barri), that she is personally, and painfully, aware is much-needed in our town.
Rachel has already teamed up with the well-established Jacob Abraham Foundation (JAF) which has a support centre in Cardiff. The registered charity, soon to be renamed Suicide Support Cymru, was established by Jacob’s mother Nicola after the 24 year- old killed himself in October 2015.
Working together, Gobaith (Barri) hopes to replicate JAF’s work to: help prevent suicide through direct intervention with vulnerable people; raise awareness on mental health and/or suicide issues; promote positive mental health, and support people bereaved through suicide, in Barry and the Vale.
“Enough is enough. Something has to be done. We need to support our vulnerable young adults. There are not enough resources, they have nowhere to go, they don’t know how to control their feelings, or even what to do with them. It’s time that changed. They need to know it’s ok not to be ok.” Rachel said.
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Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”
Mrs SVJ, Barry’s Boldest Blogger, can be contacted here.