Woman completes 125 miles for mental health charities in memory of Dales man

Joanne Jones.

A woman has walked 125 miles to raise money for mental health charities in memory of a young Hawes man.

Joanne Jones, from Askrigg, completed the challenge during March in the hills around her home village despite never previously doing any fell walking.

Joanne has already raised more than £5oo for mental health charities Mind and Place2Be.

She chose these charities in memory of Lawrence Dewes, who lived in Hawes and took his own life aged 25 in 2019.

During the pandemic while not working, seamstress Joanne trained to be a mental health adviser, while also sewing scrubs and masks for NHS workers in a caravan on her drive which came to be known as the ‘scrub hub’ for the Group Hug social enterprise.

The challenge was even major accomplishment for Joanne, who in 2011 weighed more than 40st.

The 52-year-old, who volunteers at Hawes Youth Club, lost more than 26st after having life-saving weight loss surgery.

She said: “It was a fantastic experience but it was really hared especially when I first started.”

Joanne got help from experienced walkers who told her to get some proper equipment.

“I was aiming to do five miles a day but sometimes it was sleeting and snowing and I wondered what on earth I was doing.

“The stiles were the worst thing. I just couldn’t get through them — if you looked at my Strava you’d wonder what on earth I was doing as I’d spend ages trying to get through.

“And the thing is I did all that walking and didn’t even lose a pound.

“Apparently it’s because I was building muscles that I hadn’t used before.”

Joanne said she met Lawrence while working in a take-away kiosk in Hawes and knew there was something troubling him but didn’t realise he was suffering from mental health issues.

“When I was doing my course I learnt that the suicide rate in rural areas is really high and this shocked me.

“You’d think with all the fresh air it would help but it doesn’t work like that unfortunately.”

Joanne is still collecting sponsorship for the challenge.

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