A High Peak man is preparing for a gruelling trek across 15 mountains in Wales to raise money for a cause close to his heart.
Alex Sandwell-Kliszynski, of Earl Sterndale, will tackle the Mind 3000s in May, which will see two teams, England vs Wales, go head-to-head against the clock climbing 3,000m, over 50km in just 24 hours.
A quarter of everybody in the UK will go through some form of mental health issue, it could be anxiety or depression or anything.Alex Sandwell-Kliszynski
Each team will be made up of 40 members of the public, two members of staff and six celebrities with Alex’s team being led by TV presenter Matt Johnson.
The teams will compete to reach fundraising targets and to complete challenges in the fastest time.
All money raised will go to the mental health charity Mind, a cause Alex is passionate about.
But as well as raising money for the charity, he also wants to raise awareness of mental health issues.
“My mother has bipolar,” he said. “When I was growing up it was challenging because she would either be really down or very excitable and energetic.
“It was only really when I was older I began to understand. I don’t think she necessarily accepted her diagnosis either, partly due to the stigmatisation, she didn’t want to be labelled as someone with mental health issues.
“Then my younger brother had a psychotic episode and was sectioned. Fortunately he’s now doing really well and is back on his feet.
“I’ve had a colleague who previously started to struggle with issues and that was quite distressing to see. It’s a similar experience to my brother. When its extreme you can’t recognise the person that you once knew.
“A quarter of everybody in the UK will go through some form of mental health issue, it could be anxiety or depression or anything.
“When I was younger I had to deal with anxiety and depression on occasions. It is something that can affect us all.
“Really there’s a lack of awareness and conversation about mental health issues. It is one of the elephants in the room.”
He added: “One thing that I am aware of living in a rural community is that it’s harder to access the support and services that there are. Another issue is that living in a rural community could mean isolation.
“For me, living in the countryside is my medicine, it lifts my soul but if you’re elderly and have problems getting out, that can be a challenge and it’s harder to get help if you need it.”
Speaking of the trek itself, Alex said: “We’re starting very early in the morning and going through to the early hours of the following morning with only short breaks for food and refreshments.
“I’ve done quite a bit of walking but I haven’t done anything for 24 hours like this so it is a challenge, but I wanted a challenge.”
Alex is hoping to raise around £1,000 for the charity and has already received generous support from family, friends, and work colleagues.