Kettering family's mental health fundraiser in memory of 'funny' dad Tom

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Tom Owen would have celebrated his 40th birthday this week

A pub fun day will be held this weekend to celebrate what would have been a Kettering dad's 40th birthday and raise money for mental health charities close to his family's heart.

Tom Owen died in May 2019 leaving wife Kelly and two children Imogen, 15, and eleven-year-old Harry, and it was his children's idea to mark his big birthday to help others.

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The Harlequin pub in Stamford Road will host a day-long celebration with Tom and Kelly's best friend, landlord Mark Roberts, supporting the event raising money for CALM - Campaign Against Living Miserably and Johnny's Happy Place in Kettering.

Tom OwenTom Owen
Tom Owen

Dad-of-two Tom would have celebrated his 40th birthday this week but he took his own life after a struggle with mental illness and addiction, and now his family want to mark his birthday by raising money to prevent further tragic deaths.

Widow Kelly, 33, said: "Tom was my best friend and I just want to prevent even one more family going through what we have. We have lost such a huge part of our lives.

"The children said 'daddy would have been 40, let's have a party and do some good'. The event was arranged in memory of Tom for his 40th birthday but the aim is to raise awareness and money to support everyone and anyone that may be struggling with their mental health or the loss of someone they love due to mental health."

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Kelly, who works as a mental health support worker, has seen the difference that Johnny's Happy Place has made to her clients.

Tom and Kelly on their wedding day in 2010Tom and Kelly on their wedding day in 2010
Tom and Kelly on their wedding day in 2010

She said: "The weekend support they do helps people so much - before that things were so much harder. We also signpost to CALM.

"We want people to access these services and prevent suicide, and prevent people from feeling what they are feeling - it's all about awareness, how to reach out and get help."

Although plasterer Tom had beaten drug addiction before, it was when he became overwhelmed by work that his addiction returned turning the devoted family man to despair.

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Kelly said: "When he was well, he was Tom - the family man. He was always family oriented, a joker, a clown, funny and happy. He made everyone laugh.

Tom and KellyTom and Kelly
Tom and Kelly

"He always worked hard. He hated that he went back to addiction and didn't want to let the kids down. He was excited about the future. He went away and then went missing for three days."

The fun day on Sunday (August 29), hosted by best friend and landlord Mark, starts when the pub opens at 12 noon, with a professional face painter attending from 1pm to 3pm. Children will also be able to enjoy a bouncy castle.

Hot food will be available from 4pm with spicy Caribbean chicken and burgers on the menu. In the evening customers will be able to enjoy music from Reggae Reggae Daz.

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Kelly added: "I would like to ask people to support these charities. Just to prevent it from happening to another family - it's the worst thing in the world and it's something that's going to affect us for the rest of our lives. Men especially need to speak up."

Tom was a family manTom was a family man
Tom was a family man

People can seek help from a new mental health service open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for Northamptonshire - 08004480828.

Or contact CALM, Campaign Against Living Miserably, Johnny's Happy Place in Kettering, Wellingborough-based We Mind, Kelly Matters' free live chat service and SOBS - Survivors of bereavement by suicide. A timetable for Crisis Cafes in Northamptonshire is available here.

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