Leeds United fans in Old Trafford to Elland Road walk for men's mental health charity

A Leeds United fan has organised a 'Walk Against Suicide' from Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium to Elland Road to help a men's mental health charity.

Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 4:45 am
A Leeds United fan is organising a walk from Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium to Elland Road to raise awareness of male suicide. James Offlow (right) said he has been surprised by the amount of support for the walk, which will also raise cash for charity Andys Man Club. Pictured with Craig and Gavin Longthorn, who are also part of the team taking Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

James Offlow said he chose the two clubs as starting and finishing points as he wants rivalries to be set aside for such an important issue for all men.

Dad-of-two James said around 60 people have signed up to take part in the walk, which is designed to raise awareness of male suicide and funds for mental health charity Andys Man Club

James, 33, who grew up in Bramley, said dozens of people - many of them Leeds fans - have signed up to take part in the walk on Saturday June 19.

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A Leeds United fan is organising a walk from Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium to Elland Road to raise awareness of male suicide. James Offlow (right) said he has been surprised by the amount of support for the walk, which will also raise cash for charity Andys Man Club. Pictured with Craig and Gavin Longthorn, who are also part of the team taking part. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

"It snowballed on Facebook and all of a sudden we've ended up with about 60 people," said James.

Walkers will be meeting up outside Old Trafford at 6am and they are hoping to arrive at Elland Road by around 8.30pm.

"I have struggled with my mental health and a couple of people I know have lost loved ones to suicide," said James.

"We want to say put rivalries aside - we are all men as one.

"Everyone who is joining the walk has got their own story and their own reasons why they are doing it.

"They might have lost a loved one or they might have struggled with their own mental health."

James, who works as a print finisher at ERW in Beeston, said he is studying part time for a diploma in counselling at Leeds Trinity University in Horsforth.

James said he has been to some meetings run by Andys Man Club and was impressed by the work they do.

"I struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder - which is like an anxiety condition," he said. "I have seen the work Andys Man Club does and the people they have helped massively."

James's friend Gavin Longthorn, 45, of Bramley is also taking part in the walk.

Dad-of-two Gavin said he will be walking in memory of a friend who took his own life aged in his early 40s in 2017.

"We grew up together and it was so much of a shock - It was devastating," said Leeds United fan Gavin. "We didn't see it coming at all."

More than £1,500 has so far been pledged to a Gofundme page and the walkers are hoping to raise around £2,000 in total for Andys Man Club.

Andrew Greenway, project development champion for Andys Man Club, said: "We are thrilled to see such an event take place for us.

"To see the efforts the walkers are going to to raise both funds and awareness of our sessions is great to see.

"To see that 60 people wanted to be involved is amazing and I am sure, with them all sporting Andys Man Club shorts on the walk will be a sight to behold."

Andys Man Club takes its name from Andrew Roberts, who took his own life aged 23 in 2016.

Andy's mum Elaine Roberts and his brother in Law - Former Leeds Rhinos Prop Luke Ambler - came up with the idea for Andys Man Club.

It is a group where men aged 18 and above can speak openly about their mental health in a judgment-free, non-clinical environment.

Free to attend groups now operate nationwide and Andys Man Club has 200 volunteers and is used by more than 1,000 men each week.

To sponsor the walkers in aid of Andys Man Club, go to www.gofund.me/0e69eb90

For details on how attend and Andys Man Club group, e mail: [email protected] or go to www.andysmanclub.co.uk