Strathpuffer challenger targets 'silent killer' in bid to boost mental health charity Mikeysline
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A ROSS-SHIRE man set for one of the most gruelling 24-hour winter challenges on the planet will have "a silent killer" in his sights as he grinds through the gears this weekend.
Amongst 800 cyclists taking on the legendary Strathpuffer is Remy de Jong whose pedals will gain extra power from the scores of people backing his brave bid to raise the life-saving importance of mental health support.
The Strathpeffer resident who is on a personal mission to hand a £1000 boost to Highland mental health support charity Mikeysline will support a cause close to his heart as he powers through the night around Contin Woods in ice cold conditions.
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The effort mirrors the struggle faced by many whose lives can hinge on reaching out for the right support. He explained: "My wife and I live in Strathpeffer. We moved up here two years ago after moving to Scotland from the Netherlands three years ago.
"As a road bike, cyclocross and mountain bike rider, participating in the Strathpuffer felt like it was almost mandatory for me. Riding it to raise money this year is our way of saying thanks to the community who welcomed us with open arms.
"Mental health issues are a silent killer in our society and there is a continuous growing number of suicides in the Highlands. A lot of people struggle and are unable to get the help and support they need, so they suffer in silence instead. Way too often this leads strugglers to believe that suicide is the only option.
"Mikeysline is a helpline in the Highlands where dedicated volunteers listen to you when you need support and help you to get the help you need. Where appropriate they support you through some skills-based CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) coping strategies."
Mikeysline was founded in 2015 following the tragic deaths of good friends within 48 hours of each other. This heartbreaking loss of life only added to the growing number of suicides in the Highland area.
Remy said: "When I myself struggled with mental health issues when I was in uni, and my wife struggled while she started her career working for the NHS in the Highlands, we were fortunate to get the help we needed. We soon realised that was not for everyone when we saw colleagues drop out and heard stories from friends and people in their families.
"We have always felt very welcome in the Highlands after we moved up from the Netherlands. Biking has always been my personal helpline, and knowing how difficult life can be sometimes. I feel like raising money for a great cause by doing the thing I love most is a great way to give back to our community."
The goal of the Strathpuffer, which starts at 10am on Saturday, is to ride as many laps of 12.5 miles round the clock.
The link to his fundraising page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/BikeForMentalHealth