“I cannot wait to trek Machu Picchu and travel South America with you, mate” - the last words I heard from my friend Josh in person, before he tragically took his own life.
I first met Josh at our secondary school aged 13 but didn’t really know him properly until studying A-levels together where our shared interests quickly surfaced, like watching films, reading literature and the desire to travel.
Josh was always fun and normally the life and soul of a party
Josh was just beginning a promising acting career after university having just wrapped up his first movie and landing his first prime-time TV advert with a real talent for writing poetry and plays. I have little doubt that whatever path chosen he would have undoubtedly been a success.
Josh never appreciated it, but his charismatic personality influenced many - with a passion in literature, poetry, acting, music, films and travelling making him the self-appointed cultural “go-to man” amongst friends for introducing them to many arts. Josh was always fun and normally the life and soul of a party. One of my abiding memories of him was during one New Year’s Eve party where everybody had fallen asleep and we snuck out into the snowy hills and sledged down the hills throughout the night, watched the sun rise and then decided to wake up everybody first thing with a hearty breakfast.
The pain of losing Josh, one of our closest friends, compelled us to fundraise to help Mind
I anguished about how best I could honour my dear friend, alongside our friends Chris, Tom and Matt.
The pain of losing Josh, one of our closest friends, compelled us to fundraise to help Mind continue their brilliant work supporting people with mental health problems and their loved ones.
The last conversation Josh and I had resonated with me greatly. Josh and I had begun to plot our next great adventure, having previously been lucky enough to travel to Australia and New Zealand together with our friends. Alongside Chris, Tom and Matt, I decided to continue with the Inca trek to Machu Picchu in Peru to complete one of his bucket list destinations for him in spirit.
Throughout the last 12 months, friends and family of Josh have taken part in a wide range of events that include a group Tough Guy Run, cake sales, music concerts (including a memorable performance at our old school, a competitive football match against our old school Denstone’s 1st XI, an 18 Hole Golf tournament, raffle prizes, half marathons, auctions and more.
Not only have we reached our initial target, but we have also gone onto exceed all expectations by raising an incredible total of over £32k on our team page. This figure has meant that we have regularly been in the top 1% on JustGiving fundraising campaigns; a phenomenal achievement and testament to the affect that Josh had on so many people’s lives.
I have no doubt that Josh will be with us every step along the way in November
All of this would simply not have been possible without the support, encouragement and generosity of so many others who have either felt a real connection with Josh himself or been affected by this terrible illness. We cannot thank people enough as it has been such a truly humbling journey for all of us on the “With Josh in Mind” team and one that we hope continues to help many people in the future.
I have no doubt that Josh will be with us every step along the way in November, marvelling at this wonder of the world whilst taking great delight in us “living life” by seeing something that we had dreamt of doing together. Moreover, as every muscle in our bodies begins to ache as we climb each kilometre, all the pain will be worth it if we can help just one person manage or overcome these illnesses.
If you would like to read more of our story or kindly like to donate to our cause then please visit either our original or team page below:
Nick Bloom, Chris Halkett, Tom Bradshaw-Smith and Matt Fletcher.
Find out how you can support someone who is feeling suicidal.
Find out more about the different ways you can fundraise for Mind.