Wellingborough dad preparing to honour his daughter's memory with marathon fundraising cycle ride
24-year-old Kelly Hewitt lost her battle with anxiety and depression in December 2018
A bereaved father will take to the saddle to cycle from the tip of Scotland to the toe of England to raise money, in memory of his much-loved daughter, for those suffering from mental illness.
John Hewitt, chairman of Wellingborough-based company the Glazerite UK Group Ltd, has rallied a 12-strong peleton of friends and family to take part in a 1,000-mile cycle ride in memory of his late daughter, Kelly.
24-year-old Kelly, who worked as a prison officer at Bedford Prison, died in December 2018 - an inquest into her death has yet to be held.
John, 49, said: "It's daunting. I sat down and I wanted to pay tribute to my daughter's memory and I wanted to push myself.
"Kelly will always be my daughter and even though she is no longer with us, I want to do something that will push me both physically and mentally to pay tribute to her memory.
"John O' Groats to Lands End is an enormous challenge. The training has been going really well. I hadn't been on a bike for 30 years but I've been going to the gym twice a week and doing 15 to 20 miles at one time on my training bike in my garage."
The challenge will see the team, nicknamed Kelly’s Heroes, cycle an arduous 1,000-mile route from John O’Groats to Land’s End this August.
After Kelly's death, John set up a registered charity, We Mind & Kelly Matters, to raise awareness of mental health and support those struggling, as well as fundraising for mental health charities like Mind.
We Mind & Kelly Matters have funded a £20,000 one-year pilot pilot project in collaboration with Rushden Mind. The SAFE (Suicide Awareness For Everyone) service will offer awareness talks, training events and programmes for 15 to 25-year-olds in Northamptonshire affected by suicide.
He said: “Kelly took her own life having suffered from anxiety and depression in the months leading up to her passing.
"Prior to that Kelly had always been a happy and cheerful girl and a very much-loved daughter, sister and friend, however, her mental health deteriorated very quickly, and her death has left us all completely devastated.
“A group of us decided to do something in memory of Kelly so that we could raise as much money as possible for the charity. We are all paying our own expenses.
"We also want to raise awareness of Kelly’s story so people can better understand the impact depression and anxiety can have, and hopefully learn from it.
"Depression is a silent killer, and you never really know what someone is going through inside.
”The most important thing is to be kind, talk to each other and reach out for help."
Kelly's Heroes will leave John O’Groats on Sunday, August 16, and aims to reach the Cornish landmark within 13 days, aiming to add £50,000 to add to the £20,000 We Mind & Kelly Matters has already raised.