Three Dads Walking campaigners pause charity challenge to pay respects to Her Majesty the Queen

  • "It just felt like the right thing to do" - Three Dads Walking pause their charity walk to pay tribute to Her Majesty the Queen.

Three dads who are on a mission to raise awareness of suicide, paused their latest charity challenge earlier to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

Mike Palmer, from Greater Manchester, Andy Airey from Cumbria and Tim Owen, from Norfolk, known as Three Dads Walking, are currently walking to the Parliaments of the UK in a 600-mile mission to raise funds for suicide prevention charity Papyrus.

All three lost their daughters - 17-year-old Beth Palmer, Emily Owen, 19, and 29-year-old Sophie Airey - to suicide.

The Queen's funeral was broadcasted live and is expected to have been watched by millions. Credit: PA images

But as the Queen's televised funeral took place at Westminster Abbey, the trio stopped at the side of a Lancashire canal to watch the service.

"It just felt like the right thing to do", Tim Owen explained. "If the rest of the nation is stopping, we should stop as well.

"For this hour, it doesn't hurt us at all. We want to pay respects to a lady who has led the nation for that many years - it's the right thing to do."

The fundraisers, who did not know each other before being bereaved, initially joined forces in 2021 when they walked 300 miles and raised nearly £1 million after losing their daughters to suicide.

Mike Palmer, from Sale, lost his daughter Beth during the Covid lockdown, and says it is important to keep raising awareness.

"It's going to be a long way and we're going to have to look after our feet," he says. "But myself, Andy and Tim always felt although this had to happen, we had to do it.

"There was never a question, when the last walk last year finished we knew our work wasn't done, so it's important."

Mike Palmer, from Sale, lost his daughter Beth during the Covid lockdown, Credit: ITV Granada

Mike said he was partly motivated to “do something positive” due to his own regrets over the death of his daughter, Beth, in March 2020.

"I would never have put Beth and suicide in the same sentence in a million years, we were the family it would never happen to us," he added.

"Beth, bright, bubbly, full of life, full of ambition, she was there one minute and gone the next.

"What does it do for myself, Andy and Tim? It gives us point, it gives us purpose, if we can make a difference, good.

"It does help us as well, it drives us on because we do have a belief in what we do is the right thing."

All three dads lost their daughters to suicide and have fought to raise awareness ever since.

The challenge

Three Dads Walking want the school curriculum to include compulsory age-appropriate lessons on suicide awareness, in an attempt to encourage children to talk about their emotions and reach out.

The three men visited Stormont in Belfast on 9 September as a prelude to starting their walk from Holyrood in Edinburgh on 10 September, World Suicide Prevention Day.

They are now heading down to the Senedd in Cardiff, before completing their trek to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on 10 October, World Mental Health Day.

They have been offered free accommodation by bereaved families, supporters and businesses along the route, and will be joined by a support team throughout.

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