A golfer from Stafford has helped raise money for a mental health charity with a multi-event challenge.
Louis Birchall, a member at Ingestre Park Golf Club just outside Stafford, Staffordshire decided to set himself the challenge of taking part in five endurance events throughout the year.
These were The Stafford Half Marathon in March, Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 in June, the Open Water 5km Swimathon and the Big Brutal 5Km Swim both of which took place in September as well as the Manchester Marathon in November.
The 26-year-old said: “I have always enjoyed challenging my endurance and over the past couple of years have attempted bigger and longer distance events. Towards the end of 2019, I signed up for the Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 and Manchester Marathon as these were two events and distances I had yet to complete.
“Following conversations with Ingestre Park Golf Club Captain 2020 Mike Shewan, I thought it would be great to use these events as a fundraising opportunity for a charity I had seen on Twitter – ‘The Club Talks’ – which showed how great the game of golf is both physically, and more importantly, mentally for people.”
2020 was going to plan for Louis, who works as a Strength and Conditioning coach at a rugby league team, until coronavirus restrictions changed everything. But he didn’t let that stop him and he carried on with the challenges, so far raising more than his £1,000 target.
He explained: “In what has been a crazy year, everything started normally with the Stafford Half Marathon going ahead just before the first national lockdown. However, one week later all my planned events had either been cancelled or postponed until 2021. As many people had already donated, I wanted to make sure I completed the remaining four events in 2020.
“As the national lockdown restrictions began to ease in June, I managed to get in some much needed training at various venues and planned my Ironman, 5km swims and marathon.
“I was lucky enough to have support during the events, with my girlfriend Alice Holmes completing all the swimming challenges and stages with me, friend Ashley Pelling completing the 56 mile bike leg of the Ironman, school friend Tom Perry running the 13.1 miles in the Ironman as well as completing the last 13.1 miles of the marathon and finally, my family driving around to various checkpoints along all of the routes with all the fuel I needed.
“Although the events were both mentally and physically challenging at times (being out there on my own), the support I received from both Ingestre Park Golf Club and all our members, as well as The Club Talks has been incredible.”
Ryan Curtis, one of the founders of The Club Talks, explains more about the charity: “We started The Club Talks by chance, I put a tweet out just saying how I felt golf was good for my mental health. I’m not someone who I’d say has particularly suffered with my mental health, but I just had this feeling that golf was good for me.
“We then got an overwhelming response. Lots of people with mental health issues spoke about how golf helped them. From there we decided to set up a project as it became apparent golf was such a unique sport in this respect.
“We partnered with CALM who are a leading male suicide charity whose tagline that ‘for males under 45 the most likely thing to kill you is yourself’… It’s a shocking statistic and one we’d like to help improve.
“What we aim to do at The Club Talks is to raise money, some of which will go to CALM which will help fund their suicide helplines and webchat. We also plan to pay for Mental Health First Aid Training for people in golf clubs across the UK and Ireland, meaning thousands of golfers will have access to somebody trained in their club.
“Finally, it’s about raising awareness. Awareness of mental health in men and encouraging men to speak openly a bit more than they do, but also to raise awareness for just how fantastic golf is for our mental health to both golfers and current non-golfers. Golf is unique in that it’s played in nature, it requires focus and combines exercise with a social experience, all fantastically positive things for your mental health.
“Ingestre Park has been incredible from the get-go and got fully involved. Covid put a pause on lots of fundraising efforts but that didn’t stop guys like Louis from raising funds that will affect people and golfer’s lives. It truly is inspirational, and I’m touched.”
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/louis-birchall or to find out more about The Club Talks visit www.theclubtalks.com.
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