By Eimhear McGurk
A GROUP of local runners are set to take to the streets of Newcastle Upon Tyne today to complete the Great North Run for mental health awareness.
Omagh runners Bernie McQuade and her son John will be joined by friends Michelle O’Neill, Sinead O’Kane and Mairead Sweeney in Newcastle this morning for the largest half marathon race in the world.
They are taking on the running challenge in memory of Bernie’s daughter Niamh, and have collectively raised over £3,000 for local mental health charities, Zest and Aware.
John, a fifth year medical student, wanted to help raise funds for these services which provide excellent help to those who are struggling, and strongly believes public mental health services are failing to meet these needs.
“Having most recently lost my sister to suicide and also a cousin and uncle, I believe mental illness especially depression is a big problem in our society and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. If it was a physical illness people would call it an epidemic,” said John.
“Charities like Aware help to take some of the burden and ensure that people with mental illness are supported.”
Bernie, her friends and John would sincerely like to thank everyone who has helped their quest to raise money for the two great causes.
“Family, friends, and the entire community have been so generous and the support we have received has been amazing,” said Bernie.
“We would like to say thank you to the Harriers AC, our running friends, golfing friends from Omagh Golf Club and Sperrin Lakeland Trust Golf Society, and not forgetting the Run for Enda half marathon volunteers that coached us back in 2017.”
• If you would like to donate to either Bernie’s fundraiser for Zest or John’s Aware appeal visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/berniemcquadeandfriends or www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-mcquade3