Helen Maiello of MIND Llanelli, Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac and Gareth Burgess

MIRACLE marathon man Gareth Burgess is attempting five marathons cycling and rowing in 24-hours.

Gym manager at Machynys Golf Club and Spa Gareth from Waunarlwyd is hoping his efforts will raise many thousands of pounds towards Llanelli’s MIND young person’s befriending scheme.

His challenge is to pedal and row more than 130-miles – the equivalent of five London Marathon running distances – on May 4. Starting at 7pm he will be powering through the night and the following the day in time to join a celebration buffet and auction at Machynys that night to further boost the fund raising.

Gareth said he was moved to attempt the miracle marathon feat by gym member, Llanelli magistrate and trustee-director of Llanelli MIND, Helen Maiello.

He said: “To listen to Helen movingly relate the stories of young people and the high  numbers of suicide deaths and how they can be prevented by supportive intervention compelled me to do something to help.”

Helen said statistics showed twice as many people in Wales died each year from suicide than in road accidents.

“Sadly suicide remains a major cause of death in teenage years,” she added.

“Sixty of the 260 children and young people aged 12-17-years who died due to external causes in Wales between 2002-11 did so either through intentional self-harm or an event where the intent could not be determined.

“In Llanelli alone, there were several suicide deaths of young people in 2017.” Helen said through personal life experience she knew there was no single reason why a child or young person took their own life. It was best understood by looking at the individual’s life and circumstances. But she insisted suicide was potentially preventable.

“This is possible by encouraging people to be open about their feelings or to ask for help to be able to cope with difficult life experiences. To be willing and able to help others in difficulties can help in preventing suicide and self-harm,” said Mrs Maiello,

Llanelli MIND has been running a pilot study in the last year extending the already available befriending scheme for adults to include young people from just 14 years of age. Those already supported have said they have benefitted from the scheme.

Helen said: “We now want to roll this programme out to schools and colleges, youth organisations and social media and this is why we are trying to accumulate funds. As a charity we are totally reliant on fundraising and donations because grant support is under constant pressure to fund the programmes we offer run by 30 unpaid volunteers.

“Gareth’s support is fantastically inspirational. There has been support from many firms including Dormy Care, THG Holidays, V&C Ltd., South Wales, Toppers, Picton Sports, Swansea City FC, Llanelli Automotive and several Scarlets players including Samson Lee.

“Any parent will appreciate the enormous importance of MIND’s befriending scheme. If we can prevent just one tragic death through our efforts it will have been worthwhile.”

Scarlets Coach Wayne Pivac pledged his support too when he met Gareth and Helen at Machynys. He said: “This is such a worthwhile cause and Gareth deserves much support and credit for his Herculean multi-marathon fund raising proposal for this vital and potentially young life saving scheme.”

Anyone wishing to support Gareth’s  MIND marathon can visit the just giving page https://wwwjustgiving.com/fundrasing/gareth24hourschallenge

Anyone who can pledge support for Mind can contact Helen Maiello 07725 194592 or by email on hmaiello77@gmail.com

Helen also has tickets available for the after event buffet.

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