Firefighters saddle up for mental health week

The cycle team, pictured at the Mizen Head start line are, L-R: Noel McKee (Whitehead); Craig Bell (Moira); Andy Beavis (Belfast) and Stephen Brown (Newcastle)
The cycle team, pictured at the Mizen Head start line are, L-R: Noel McKee (Whitehead); Craig Bell (Moira); Andy Beavis (Belfast) and Stephen Brown (Newcastle)

Craig Bell, a firefighter from Moira, and Andy Beavis, a firefighter stationed in Lisburn, joined with colleagues from other stations this week to mark Mental Health Awareness Week by taking in an eight day cycle challenge.

Craig and Andy, together with Noel McKee and Stephen Brown, as well as driver Liam Bergin, left Mizen on Sunday (May 12) and are due to finally finish their challenge in Belfast on Saturday (May 18).

The group of men, made up of serving and retired firefighters, are saddling up and taking on the challenge to raise awareness of the high suicide rate in males aged 45-54, and to bring attention to the subject of mental health.

The team will also use the challenge to as a way to raise vital funds for Business in the Community NI (BITCNI) charity of the year MindWise, a mental health charity that supports people affected by severe mental illness, mental health difficulties, and promotes early intervention for better mental health. BITCNI members SHS Group and Allianz are also supporting the cyclists.

The challenge was devised by ex-firefighter and therapeutic counsellor Noel McKee, who is keen to highlight positive messages around mental health.

Noel said: “It’s well known that keeping active boosts good mental health and can also help prevent chronic illness. Just because we hit 50, life isn’t over.

“We want to show people that age isn’t a barrier when it comes to taking on a challenge that’s great for both our physical and mental health.”

If you would like to donate to MindWise, and support the team of cyclists on their eight day challenge, you can visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mizmalbel to make a donation.