Gateshead village hit by father and son suicide complete £40k mental health fundraiser

Money raised in memory of Jack and Wayne Mitchell will go directly into educating local children about mental health issues. Credit: Toria Mitchell

Friends and family of a father and son who took their own lives within days of each other in 2020 have raised almost £40,000 in a year-long mental health fundraising challenge.

Jack and Wayne Mitchell from High Spen, Gateshead, have been remembered by an ever-growing group in their village, known as The Thirty Before 30 (TTB30).

Five of Jack's best friends originally set up the group with the aim of completing 30 challenges by his 30th birthday, which would have been on Saturday 29 October.

The money will go towards a new Hope Fund, organised by Tyneside Northumberland Mind, educating children in local schools about mental health.

Toria Mitchell, Jack's sister and Wayne's daughter, told ITV Tyne Tees that today's final challenge - a 10km run and walk in Newburn - has seen 120 people turn out, including family from Australia and friends of Jack's from university.

She said: "The atmosphere is amazing today. But it's a weird feeling having everyone there and it's sad because Jack should have been here."

Luke Walker, who was one of Jack's best friends, completed the final challenge today. Credit: Toria Mitchell

The group's first event - a 10km run in Hexham - had seven runners, including original founders Dan Webb, brothers Luke and Dylan Walker, Tim Knox and James Kendall. Lauren Christie and Cory Hefferon have also completed most of the team challenges.

Dan told ITV Tyne Tees it was a day of "mixed emotions" but the money raised "could not have gone to a better place".

He said: "I've already been in tears this morning - it's a day where Jack should have been here. But the money for the Hope Fund is just amazing.

"It will help people with mental health in schools, and I've got two kids myself, so knowing in the future it could help them and others is amazing."

Luke told ITV Tyne Tees the community has "played a massive part" in the team's success.

He said: "It is just great the way we have got the community together. I want to say thank you so much to them, without the community we would have just lost the will.

"The money raised means the world because Jack was one of my best friends."

The group's current fundraiser stands at £39,000, with an official total to be announced tonight.

Family have flown in from Australia to be there for the final fundraising challenge. Credit: Toria Mitchell

Dylan said: "I'm so glad to see what we have accomplished, keeping both Jack and Wayne's memories alive.

"It's very sad but the fundraising is going to continue on so it's good to know that we are going to actually make a difference and help people."

Alex Wilson, chief executive of Tyneside Northumberland Mind, said: "Devastatingly Jack took his life over a year ago, and his dad, Wayne did the same days later, having a huge impact on family, friends and the local community. 

"On behalf of everyone at Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, I would like to say a huge thank you for raising almost £40,000 for the charity. This will make a huge difference in supporting people with their mental health in extremely challenging times."

If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available.

  • Call Samaritans on 116 123

  • Call the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) on 0800 58 58 58

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