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Three dads who lost daughters to suicide arrive in town as part of 500-mile charity trek

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They have faced all weather including hail and rain, but the sun was shining when The Three Dads Walking trekked into Lynn and approached the end of their 500-mile walk.The three dads, Mike Palmer, Andy Airey, and Shouldham’s Tim Owen, entered West Norfolk on Wednesday as part of their hike which is raising funds for suicide prevention charity Papyrus.This is the third walk that the dads have embarked on since the trio joined forces, having all lost a daughter to suicide.

The Three Dads Walking coming into Lynn. From left, Mike Palmer, Andy Airey, and Shouldham’s Tim Owen. Pictures: Ian Burt

The trio stopped off in Lynn on their way to Castle Rising to meet West Norfolk mayor Cllr Margaret Wilkinson, who provided them with refreshments in the town hall.During a stretch of the walk, they were joined by the Duke of Norfolk Edward Fitzalan-Howard and other dignitaries and later met up with members of the team from West Norfolk-based men’s mental health charity the 8:56 Foundation who came to show their support. Tim, who lost his 19-year-old daughter Emily to suicide in 2020, said he was looking forward to coming back to his home county, with the walk scheduled to finish in Norwich – where a new Papyrus base is opening.

Tim’s daughter Emily Owen, who died in 2020
Many came along to show their support for the The Dads Walking. Picture: Ian Burt

He said: “When we crossed the border into Norfolk, the sun started shining and I’ve been looking forward to seeing the waterfront at Lynn because a long time ago Emily used to work at The Rathskeller, so this is home territory for me.”Tim, Mike and Andy started their walk in Stirling in Scotland on April 17 and are due to finish in Norwich on Saturday.Along the way, they have spoken to suicide survivors and parents of young people who didn’t know that suicide is the biggest killer among people aged 35 and under.They have been handing out thousands of Papyrus wristbands, which have the vital number people can call to receive help if they are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

The 8:56 Foundation joined in on part of the trek to show their support. Picture: Ian Burt

Tim added: “We have heard from suicide-free parents along the way, a lot of them didn’t know that suicide is the biggest killer among people under 35 and all of them agree that we need to protect young people. “We walk for Papyrus, which is a fantastic charity to prevent suicide in young people, but it’s great to see other charities like the 8:56 Foundation come and support us so that is fantastic.”The dads have raised more than £100,000 during their third walk and have raised £1.3million to date.

The Three Dads Walking stopped off for a well-deserved break at Lynn Town Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

This money supports Papyrus’ growth, meaning it can extend its opening hours from 9am to midnight to a 24/7 service as well as opening branches up and down the country. Tim said: “The scenery has been magnificent, but equally the people we have met have been too. The kindness of people has been great.“Even coming into Norfolk now, we had iced buns off a farmer and given some alcohol-free beer and sweets. We’ve had a lot of that on the route and the kindness of people on the route has been amazing.

The dads were joined by the 8:56 Foundation and other dignitaries. Picture: Ian Burt

“It doesn’t matter where you are in society, suicide doesn’t discriminate, it could affect all of us, it’s so important to get that prevention message out there that there is hope.” Tim, Mike and Andy have also been working with the Government to get suicide prevention on the national curriculum.“It’s really important, it breaks the stigma and if kids want to talk about it they can do it in a safe space,” said Tim.

The Three Dads Walking coming into Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

“One in five will have a suicidal thought in their life. If we don’t train them, they will go into crisis. It’s about talking to young people and giving them coping strategies for when they go through those hard times.”The dads said they have experienced a lot of support from members of the public, with Tim saying that he believed that they had only walked alone 5% of the time.

The Three Dads Walking approaching Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt
The Three Dads Walking with West Norfolk Mayor Margaret Wilkinson inside Lynn Town Hall. Picture: Ian Burt
The Three Dads Walking with West Norfolk Mayor Margaret Wilkinson outside Lynn Town Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact Papyrus’ Hopeline on 0800 068 41 41.

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