3 Jun 2015
Claire Hiles from Cardiff tells us about why she and five colleagues took part in an event aiming to help end the stigma surrounding mental health and support suicide prevention.
"Myself and five of my colleagues at Legal and General wanted to take part in the Walking out of Darkness event in memory of our friend and colleague, Greg Moss. He was just 29 years young when he took his life in July of last year. 10 months on and we’re all still confused, shocked and deeply saddened. He was the ultimate gentleman and had the greatest sense of humour and was loved by us all.
"Greg worked with us in the Direct Sales Contact Centre selling life insurance to our customers. I was Greg’s team manager for the best part of two and a half years and never did I think he felt as sad as he did to make the ultimate decision to not be here anymore. (We were also at High School and Sunday School together when we were younger.)
"It was my colleague Reuben Gustoni’s idea to take part and he registered us all. We kept Greg’s family informed at each step and they’ve been following the online donations and reading everyone’s words of encouragement for us. We wanted to have a photo of Greg on the CLASP t-shirts with the caption, ‘Walking for GREG remembering his SMILE with every step of the way’ and Greg’s Mum covered the cost of having these printed. (She wanted to feel as though she was a part of it and wanted to help in any way she could in addition to donating large amounts to each of us who walked.)
"Greg’s Mum was really insistent that we have fun along the way as it’s what Greg would’ve wanted. In readiness for the day, Reuben and I put a quiz together for our 4 other friends taking part. It included a prize if we spotted someone wearing a tutu, fancy dress costume, and prizes for the first to spot certain landmarks along the route and everyone enjoyed it!
"One lady commented on how lovely Greg’s smile was on our t-shirt, which was ironic because that’s what we, his other colleagues and his family say too. I did notice a lot of photographs on peoples bags and t-shirts. They were all males. Greg’s family have since found out that suicide is most common in males under the age of 30.
"The event was a really special day for us, and allowed us to do something positive out of all the sadness we’ve been feeling since July 2014. We knew that Greg would be incredibly proud of us and that he was with us during each step, that’s something we’ve taken comfort from. We’ve also been overwhelmed with everyone’s support and just how many people have experienced something similar. Greg’s parents feel it’s important to openly talk about what happened and not have the stigma associated with knowing someone who took their own life, and so we do openly talk about it.
"The 4:30am start and leaving Cardiff at 6am was totally worth it and on the way back we said we’d love to do it again next year. We have raised over £3,000 matched by Legal & General."