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Hope Graduate Goes Extra Mile for Mental Health

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A brave Liverpool Hope University graduate is bidding to run more than 200 miles in less than a month to raise money for charity… having only taken up jogging in January. 

Tony Preshaw graduated from Hope in 2016 and studied Drama & Theatre at the University’s Creative Campus. 

And from the 1st until the 25th September he’s set to run a 10k every day - before rounding it off with a marathon on the 26th September. 

He’s performing the feat in order to raise money for mental health charity Mind, and having been through his own emotional struggles he’s hoping the mission might convince others to open up, speak out and seek help. 

With a goal of £2,000 to aim for, Tony says the endeavour was actually conceived while wolfing down a McDonald’s meal. 

The 28-year-old, originally from Leeds but now living in Manchester’s Media City, laughs: “I’ve actually only been running seven months. 

“I’d put on a bit of weight over Christmas and, while actually eating a McDonald’s meal, agreed to run the Manchester 10k with some work colleagues. 

“Things just snowballed from there. I started running and found I had a real passion for it.”

So far, the furthest distance Tony has run is 17 miles - and still has some way to go to cover the ultimate 26.2 mile marathon distance. 

Tony, who works in medical insurance also works part-time at the Lowry Theatre, has teamed-up with a personal trainer to try and mitigate the risk of injury, and to also make sure he’s getting the right fuel into his body. 

He’s also being supported by his partner, James. 

Officially, Tony will cover around 181 miles in his challenge. 

But because he’s having to do longer runs at the weekend as part of his marathon training he’ll actually go well over the 200 mile mark. 

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He’s pushing his body through the pain barrier for a very important reason. 

Speaking about his father, Paul, and mum, Michelle, he explains: “I grew up on a council estate and my father brought me up from the age of three because my mother was a drug addict. While he’s now in recovery - and always did his best - dad had issues with alcohol. 

“Sadly, my mum died of an overdose when I was 17. 

“I never spoke about what happened. I was always one of these people who just kept everything inside. I didn’t speak to my partner. I didn’t speak to my family. 

“And over the last couple of years all of these emotions bubbled to the surface. I had a breakdown at work and luckily my employers have services that allowed me to speak with a counsellor. 

“It all flooded out. I saw things as a kid I should never have seen. I also struggled to talk about my sexuality before I finally came out when my mum passed away. 

“And as well as seeking help, I’ve found that running is also really good for your mental wellbeing. 

“You put your headphones, you’re out in the open air just enjoying the environment. It clears your head, gets rid of the previous day’s worries, and you start again.

“I’m in a much better mindframe since I started running. 

“And I’m enjoying sharing my story and giving other people some hope. I want to tell others that they’re not alone and that they’re not being judged.”

Speaking about his time at Hope, Tony describes it as some of the best years of his life so far. 

He adds: “I went to University late, but absolutely loved it. The Creative Campus was great and I still talk to my dissertation tutor. 

“It’s just a nice community to be part of.”

To donate to Tony’s fund, go here

You can also follow his progress on Instagram @tonysmentalhealthrun.

Published on 21/08/2020