Andy’s run raises £25,000 in memory of daughter

Date: Monday 4th March 2019

MORLAND father Andy Airey has raised more than £25,000 for the suicide prevention charity Papyrus in memory of his daughter Sophie, who took her own life in December.

Andy completed the Northumberland half-marathon in two hours, 18 minutes in Sophie’s place. She had signed up to run with her friend, Laura Spenceley, Kendal, who took two hours, 35 minutes. Sophie’s husband, Sam Knight, completed the full marathon in four hours, 41 minutes.

The family chose to take something positive from Sophie’s death by raising awareness of the help which is available for those who are feeling suicidal, as well as raising some vital funds at the same time.

Andy, aged 58, has been overwhelmed by the level of support for his campaign.

He said: “For me, the money was almost a byproduct of what we were doing, as it was always about raising awareness that help is there, but I set the target at £20,000 because we had £2,000 in the pot almost immediately and it felt like we had plenty of time to raise the rest. What I do know is that we have reached tens of thousands of people who didn’t know about Papyrus before and who knows what that has achieved in terms of saving lives.”

Sophie was 29 when she went missing from her home near Edinburgh in December. She was found dead three days later. Andy hopes that by raising awareness of the help available, others might be able to come back from the brink, as he did himself more than two decades ago, by ringing the Samaritans.

Papyrus needs just over £2 million a year to maintain its existing services, which includes a call, text and email helpline for young people with thoughts of suicide, but also for those concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

Every £5 raised can help pay for a potentially lifesaving contact to the service from a young person wanting to stay safe from their thoughts of suicide.

Andy, who grew up at Threlkeld, where his parents ran the Horse and Farrier, and lived in Skelton for a time before moving to Morland, says the charity will now be with him for the rest of his life. He has already been invited by the organisers of the weekend’s run to take part in the North Yorkshire half-marathon in September, and says he will naturally be doing it in aid of Papyrus.

Sophie grew up near Kendal, where she lived with her mother, George, and attended Kirkbie Kendal School, where she went on the become deputy head girl. After finishing her schooling, she started a history degree in Newcastle, but did not like the course or the city and quit, instead taking time out to volunteer in Kenya, working with Aids orphans for four months.

It was there that she developed an interest in nursing and, on her return, trained as a nurse in Manchester, initially working in Lancaster before she and Sam made the move to Edinburgh four years ago.

Andy’s JustGiving page at http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-airey2 remains open for the time being for any further donations.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people under 35 in the UK. HopelineUK, the helpline run by Papyrus, can be contacted on 0800 0684141.