Double challenge to help keep counsellors in North Yorkshire schools

This story was published 21 May 2021

A bold attempt to raise money needed to help keep counsellors working in North Yorkshire and Tees Valley schools is being planned, with an audacious attempt at the county’s ‘six peaks’ over just 24 hours.

In training for walk

The challenge - which would see a team of eight people tackle the Yorkshire 3 peaks, then turn around and tackle them again - is expected to take place in September with the objective of helping to finance mental health counsellors who work with some of the county’s school children along with those in the Tees Valley.

The service was introduced after the tragic loss of a parent of pupils at Hutton Rudby primary school several years ago, through a charity called the Russ Devereux Headlight Project, set up in 2018 by Catherine Devereux, the wife of Russ, whose death affected many people.

At the time, a group of volunteers including head teacher Matthew Kelly showed their support by taking on the National Three Peaks Challenge and raised £15,000, which helped allow Headlight to employ counsellors to work with children across six schools, in North Yorkshire and Teesside.

Now a fresh team of eight, including Mr Kelly, teaching colleagues and other staff, are to attempt the double circuit of Yorkshire’s three peaks.

After a training run where they managed the three peaks in ten hours, they decided to double the distance with a 24-hour deadline to reach the finish line, in the hope the feat - which they believe to be unique if completed - will raise more money for Headlight.

They are hoping to outstrip the previous total, which will help secure the counselling service in an era where many professionals expect increased mental health problems among children affected by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns.

Mr Kelly said: “It is more pertinent now, due to Covid-19 and we really want to raise the profile of the Headlight Project.

“We embarked on the Yorkshire three peaks with a target of completing it in 12 hours but did it in ten.

“So we thought we could do it back-to-back, 48 miles in under 24 hours. It will be a heck of an effort and challenge climbing 15,000 feet in total.”

The route will allow supporters to join the team for different parts of the challenge: “People coming will help spur us along and the more people we can get involved, the more money we will raise.

“All the money we raise will be going to the Headlight Project charity. It has been such a difficult year for everyone.

“We feel that by undertaking this charity walk, we can help raise awareness of the importance of focussing upon children’s mental health at an early age and through the money that we raise, continue to support the counsellors who are working with children and families in schools.”

Lucie Trenholme, is a counsellor working for the Headlight project and said: “The Headlight Project predominately works with people with traumatic bereavement following suicide or sudden death.

“It comprises of a highly skilled team (counsellors, play therapists and a psychological therapist) that compassionately works with adults and children, either one to one or in groups, to work through the trauma and find a way to move forward to live a happier life, where they feel empowered to manage life’s ‘ups and downs’.”

The three peaks are the highest in Yorkshire - Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen y Ghent.