Three Dads Walking to keep going 'until it's done' on mission to improve suicide education

The 'Three Dads Walking' before their latest fundraising trek.
Tim Owen, Mike Palmer and Andy Airey

Three fathers who were brought together through their daughter's death say they will not be stopping in their drive to improve suicide education.

Tim Owen, Andy Airey and Mike Palmer - better known now as the Three Dads Walking - completed their epic 600-mile through all four nations of the UK on Monday.

They came together after their daughters took their own lives, and have since made it their mission to kickstart the conversation around suicide among young people.

Their aim has been to get suicide prevention on the school curriculum, and nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition in support of their efforts.

Minutes after finishing their challenge, Mr Owen, from Shouldham in Norfolk, said the trio were as determined as ever, despite the aching legs and driven on by their daughters' memories.

"We need to do something positive in their memory," he said. "And hopefully that's what we're doing. I'm not say we've done: we're doing. And we'll keep going until it's done."

Mr Owen's daughter Emily was 19 when she died two years ago. Mr Palmer's daughter Beth died in the same month - March 2020 - and Mr Airey's daughter Sophie died just before Christmas in 2018.

Since then, they have walked hundreds of miles, raised nearly £1m for charity, and started a national conversation around suicide.

As the Three Dads Walking, their goal is to encourage more discussion of mental health, and to introduce the issue of suicide prevention to the national school syllabus.

In 2021, they walked 300 miles across the country, finishing in Mr Owen's home village of Shouldham in west Norfolk.

Their most recent challenge doubled the distance, stopping at every parliament in the UK.

Ahead of their most recent walk, Mr Owen said he had been motivated by the note his daughter left when she took her own life.

He said: "The first thing was don't be ashamed. The second was if others can learn from my death, let them. I took that to heart."

He said he took that thought of his little girl, and used it to fuel his determination to make in her name - as have both Mr Palmer and Mr Airey.

He said: "At Em's funeral, there were six people there because it was at the start of the pandemic. It's almost as if our girls could have been forgotten."

Tim Owen, Mike Palmer and Andy Airey, set off on their walk on 9th September Credit: 3 Dads Walking

They are now set on raising the discussion of suicide education in schools, in the hope they can save lives.

"This is way above politics - this is about the future of our kids, and who wouldn't want try and save some of their lives? And if it makes a difference to a few, it's worth doing isn't it?"

While walking, the three dads met firefighters training 16-year-olds on driver safety on their journey.

He said: "There are about 1,300 road deaths a year. Suicide is about four times that amount - so let's do stuff to prevent it in the first place."

In 2021, the dads garnered celebrity support as they raised almost £1m for Papyrus, a suicide prevention charity.

James Bond actor Daniel Craig gave the fathers’ 2021 campaign a boost by donating £10,000, a sum which was then matched by the Australian actress Nicole Kidman.

This year Craig described their latest charity campaign as “heroic”.