Tyneside Mind opens thanks to family's Kenyan run

A fundraising challenge in Africa undertaken by a North East family, has enabled Tyneside Mind to develop a new service for those with mental health issues

James Middleton The family who ran in Africa
The family who ran in Africa

A journey of cancer and depression took them to their lowest ebb.

But after the Straker family fought through their illnesses they completed a fundraising challenge in Africa on one of the most gruelling half marathons in the world.

Married for 34 years, businessman Philip and wife Charlotte Straker endured cancer together.

It hit their family hard, and then their interior designer daughter Emma, 33, suffered depression as she supported her parents through their ordeals.

They raised almost £20,000 after enduring The Safaricom Race earlier this year. And the cash has now allowed Tyneside Mind to develop a new service to help others suffering mental health issues.

Yesterday Charlotte and Philip, who remain in remission, along with Emma’s husband James Middleton, 34, were guests of honour at the opening of the new Safe Space complex based at The Therapy Centre in Hexham, Northumberland.

Emma, who has just given birth to twins, was unable to attend the opening as she was on babysitting duty. She had agreed to the Kenya challenge but pulled out after falling pregnant. Charlotte said: “If the money we raised helps two or three people then that will be a result. But we hope other families will come on board and raise more money so scores of people can be helped over the coming years.”

The marathon took place in Kenya and Charlotte and Philip’s daughters Mary, 26, nicknamed “Mouse”, and Sarah, 29, as well as her partner Andrew Turnbull, 31, James, 34, and family friend Nick Van Gruisen, 58, joined them on their charity run. The Safaricom Race is one of the fifth toughest marathons in the world with only 1,200 entrants who run on dirt tracks at 5,500ft and past buffalo, zebra and antelope.

Charlotte added: “Our daughter wanted to join a group session but we couldn’t find any support at all in Northumberland. Tyneside Mind is an independent charity and unbeknown to us at the time get little help from National Mind to deliver these services. We got in touch with Stuart Dexter, chief executive at Tyneside Mind, and decided to raise funds to set something up.”

Mr Dexter said: “The fundraising carried out by the Straker family and their friends has been phenomenal. It has enabled Tyneside Mind to establish a service in Tynedale that will really make a difference to local people who have experienced a mental health problem and we hope to develop the support available to residents of Tyneside over the coming months.” Safe Space is a regular, drop-in style support group held every Wednesday between 1pm and 3pm. For further information, contact Stuart Dexter on 0191 4774545.


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