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Profile

George Gray

The 4 Rivers Challenge

Total raised so far £0.00

Target £0.00

Total plus Gift Aid: £0.00

Raised offline: £0.00

My story

[p] [b]1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health issue during their lives and the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK is suicide. On 22nd Oct 2014 George’s family’s life was changed by a knock on the door from the police to tell him that their darling son, James, had taken his life at the age of 20. He was in his second year at St Andrews university, they thought he was high functioning asbergers & had been struggling with normal life. A lot has happened since. George has been joined by 3 other work colleagues to make the 4 Rivers Challenge team of 4.[/b][/p][p][b]We are doing The 4 Rivers Challenge to raise Mental Health Awareness and to support the work of MIND, SAMH and Inspire through highlighting the benefits of Cold Water Swimming and telling my story.[/b][/p][p][b]4 Rivers, 4 Capitals, 4 Seasons, 4 Mental Health. [/b][/p][p]Our Stories[/p][p][b]George[/b][/p][p]On 22nd Oct 2014 our family’s life was changed by a knock on the door from the police to tell us that our darling son, James, had taken his life at the age of 20. The immediate aftermath was surreal, to say the least. A funeral to organise – what was I doing organising a funeral for my 20 year old son? I had a darling wife and another son to take care of and needed to ensure I kept afloat myself. A friend I knew provided wise words when he said, “It is like carrying a heavy rucksack. It doesn’t get any lighter, you get stronger.” Our minister warned us about the waves that would come crashing against the boat. The unseen ones would be the hardest. He was right. You don’t get over the death of a child; you have to get used to the new normal.[/p][p]At James’ memorial service I spoke about being willing to open up to people, based upon what the war poet Rupert Brooke wrote in a letter to Bryn Olivier at the end of September 1912. Part of his letter reads:[/p][p]“One of the great difficulties, and perils, you see, in ever telling anyone any truth, is the same as in ever loving anyone, but more so. It gives them such a devilish handle over you. I mean, they can hurt. If I love a person and say nothing, I’m fairly safe. But if I tell them, I deliver myself bound into their hands.”[/p][p]I have learned many things since 2014. One is the importance of opening up to people, as this results in people being prepared to share with you rather than hurt you. Someone needs to make the first move. I mourn for James whilst also being more aware of the pain being experienced by so many other people.[/p][p]The blur for me continued for 3 months. I was back at work; my boss and employer have been and continue to be very supportive. I received a call from a colleague and friend inviting me to join a triathlon team as the swimmer. I agreed, started training and turned my attention to taking the plunge outdoors, something I hadn’t really done since I was a small boy. Like in many other locations, where I live there is an informal network of outdoor swimmers and I was made very welcome. Finding other likeminded people is made easier these days with the internet, organisations like The Outdoor Swimming Society ([url=https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/]https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/[/url]) and Swim the Blues ([url=https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=368914600560222&ref=content_filter]https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=368914600560222&ref=content_filter[/url]) I would also recommend asking at your local swimming pool or Triathlon club about people who Cold Water Swim. This was my introduction to Cold Water swimming and I have never looked back. A wet suit was purchased, various training swims and events undertaken. I was hooked by the benefits of Cold Water swimming. One of these is an endorphin high. (I have listed others at the end). The friend who invited me to my first triathlon confided in me later that he felt I needed something to focus my mind after James’ death. It is good to have friends who look out for you. I had enjoyed my introduction to Cold Water Swimming and so I continued and expanded the locations I swam. [/p][p]Like all things, life changes and time moves on. We have moved home and now live on the West Coast of Scotland next to the sea. I attend a peer to peer support group with the aim of preventing suicide. I belong to an Open Water Swim Group and can walk out of my door and straight into the sea. There is nothing better than going for a swim after a hard day’s work. I have also moved on from swimming in a wet suit to skin swimming (no wetsuit). This was suggested by another friend who got into skin swimming and kept saying how invigorating it was. I was curious and tried it. I loved it straight away. At this point I would say make sure you understand the effects of cold water shock and take it in stages. Find some fellow swimmers and you’ll soon get the feel for what you can do. There is also guidance on The Outdoor Swimming Society website.[/p][p]I believe I have handled the last 5 years reasonably well. The benefits of opening up to others, Cold Water swimming, ensuring I have a good diet have all helped me cope with the last few year, alongside my faith, which is my foundation stone, In good times and hard times it is also good to talk to people that you trust.[/p][p]And enjoy the moment. There is a time for everything, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Remember to laugh and dance. The 4 Rivers Challenge is me remembering to laugh and dance. It is also another chapter in my story as I continue my journey in the now new normal. I hope my story will help and inspire others. [/p][p]Please take the time to donate and help to reduce the biggest killer of men in the UK under 45. If you wish to do more, then please join me on one of my swims, I'll insert a link to the event once I have created an event.[/p][p][b]Lisa[/b][/p][p]It was 6am on a Monday morning when I received a phone call from a very dear friend to tell me her beautiful 18 year old son had taken his life. He was tall, strong, beautifully handsome, the world was there at his feet waiting for him to step out and be the best version of him but his mental health wasn’t going to allow him that adventure and in the early hours of Sunday morning he had taken his own life.[/p][p]No one knew he felt so sad, so alone, so confused, in despair with no ability to see all of the great things he was.[/p][p]I am taking part in the 4 Rivers Challenge to bring awareness of just how many people are affected by mental health, to show that we need to not only talk about our mental health, but look out for those who can’t. [/p][p]I heard a story recently about someone climbing on Everest who said each morning the Sherpa would look her in the face, really look and determine if she was OK to climb that day... It’s not a bad idea that..![/p][p]Please share this message and if you want, you could donate too to these wonderful charities MIND, SAMH and Inspire.[/p][p][b]Alex[/b][/p][p]We all know someone who has been affected by mental health, and it’s likely that at some point in our lives, some of us will too. While fortunately I’ve never suffered a tragedy at the hands of mental health, I know several people that have. I know even more people who have gone through hard times and could have benefitted if they’d had someone to talk to. Mental health is something that isn’t discussed enough, particularly in young men, which is why it’s so important to raise awareness.[/p][p]I’m honoured to be able to help George for such a wonderful cause, and if we can help just one person to open up and talk about their problems, this would have been worthwhile. [/p][p][b]Luke[/b][/p][p]My story doesn’t actually include life-changing events where somebody close to me has taken their own life. What I do have experience of is family members and friends falling into deep levels of depression that have been so dark and desperate that it almost feels like they will never overcome their struggles. It is an understatement to say that it’s a painful process to watch somebody deteriorate in front of you and that feeling of helplessness and sometimes lack of understanding that overcomes you. And that’s why talking about mental health and raising awareness for it is so important. [/p][p]When I read George’s story I was very moved. Not just by the thought of the horrendous ordeal that he and his family must have gone through, but also because of the drive and ambition to make a change for others after going through the unthinkable. [/p][p]We forget day to day that, just like our physical health and fitness, we all have a mental health to keep in check. How we perceive mental health and feelings of suicide need to be more openly addressed and discussions encouraged. MIND, SAMH and Inspire all do a wonderful job at promoting these issues and I’d encourage you to support them and others that need your help as well. [/p][p][b]Cold Water Swimming Health Benefits:[/b][/p][p]If you want to improve your life on all fronts, think about taking a dip in your local cold water swimming pool. It will be one of the best decisions that you make. Here are six amazing health benefits of cold water swimming.[/p][p][b]1. It boosts your immune system[/b][/p][p]The effects of cold water on the immune system have been studied widely. Cold water helps to boost the white blood cell count because the body is forced to react to changing conditions. Over time, your body becomes better at mobilising its defences.[/p][p]There’s a reason why so many people who participate in cold water swimming are rarely sick.[/p][p][b]2. It gives you an endorphin high[/b][/p][p]Endorphins are what the brain produces to make us feel good about certain activities. Cold water swimming is a form of exercise, and exercise has been proven to treat depression. Cold water swimming brings us close to the pain barrier. Endorphins are released when we’re in pain to help us cope.[/p][p]Cold water swimming is particularly helpful for endorphin release for this reason. Who can say no to a few extra endorphins?[/p][p][b]3. It enhances your circulation[/b][/p][p]Cold water swimming flushes your veins, arteries, and capillaries. It forces blood to the surface and pushes the cold downwards. In other words, it helps to warm our extremities. Repeated exposure adapts us to the cold. [/p][p]In older and vulnerable people, this is essential. It helps them better cope during harsh winters. The seasons become less of a health risk and more enjoyable.[/p][p][b]4. It increases your libido[/b][/p][p]Cold water was traditionally seen as a way to repress sexual urges. The fact is that it actually [i]increases[/i] libido. A dip in some cold water boosts oestrogen and testosterone production, adding an edge to fertility and libido.[/p][p]The benefits of increased libido include more confidence, higher self-esteem, and enhanced mood. [/p][p][b]5. It burns more calories[/b][/p][p]The heart must pump faster and the body must work harder to keep everything warm while swimming in cold water. Overall, you will burn far more calories than swimming in hotter conditions. The idea that drinking cold water increases the number of calories you burn may be a myth, but it’s a fact that cold water decreases your body temperature so much that the body has to act. It’s no coincidence that cold water swimmers are generally thin.[/p][p][b]6. It reduces stress[/b][/p][p]Stress is a demon in the modern world. When stressful times come, we are woefully unprepared for them. Reducing stress means you will feel better, you will feel more optimistic, and you will be more resilient when stressful times come along.[/p][p]Cold water swimming places stress on the body physically and mentally. Many studies have told us about the link between cold water and stress reduction. Cold water swimmers are naturally calmer and more relaxed. They are stronger in the face of adversity.[/p][p]Source - [url=https://www.lifehack.org/288238/6-amazing-health-benefits-cold-water-swimming]https://www.lifehack.org/288238/6-amazing-health-benefits-cold-water-swimming[/url][/p]
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Supporters

Aug 16, 2019

Susie J

Go George and the team. Epic challenge for such an important cause. With all good wishes to you all. So much respect and good wishes for all of you. Susie 🙃🙃

£50.00 plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Aug 14, 2019

Julie Lee and the boys

George what a challenge! Best of luck with it - looks like you’re doing amazing! Julie, Lee and the boys xx

£10.00 plus £2.50 Gift Aid

Aug 13, 2019

Anonymous

Go George Go! all our love cousins Louie, John, Ned, Kit & Jamie XX

£50.00 plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Aug 13, 2019

Sarah Skelton

You are all mad, but massively proud - good luck

£50.00 plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Aug 13, 2019

Anonymous

£15.00 plus £3.75 Gift Aid

Aug 11, 2019

Irene O

Good luck George

£20.00 plus £5.00 Gift Aid

Aug 11, 2019

Anonymous

We hope the swims go well, swim strong . Lisa and Rob

£50.00 plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Aug 10, 2019

Rachael Cunliffe

Good luck to you all on your challenge for such an important cause.

£25.00

Aug 10, 2019

Anonymous

Thank you for all you’re doing to raise money for mental health. Donna A

£50.00 plus £12.50 Gift Aid

Aug 10, 2019

Steve Baker

Good luck Rose! You mentalist.

£30.00 plus £7.50 Gift Aid