Gail Porter, TOWIE star James Argent, Fortitude lead Nicholas Pinnock and TV presenters Matt Johnson and Anna Williamson will embark on the first ever Mind 3000s trek at 6am this morning. Along with 38 supporters of Mind, the mental health charity, the celebrities will walk into the early hours of Sunday morning, across Snowdonia and the Lake District, to raise £60,000 for essential mental health services.
The celebrities have all battled their own mental health problems and so Mind is a cause close to their hearts. They have come together for this unique challenge and, after months of training will split into two teams and go head-to-head to complete a nonstop 24 hour, 50km trek, across 3,000ft mountains in the fastest time. Team England, led by Anna Williamson, will brave the Lake District, while Matt Johnson will captain Team Wales as they take on Snowdonia.
Last week saw the stars and their teams of Mind supporters collectively smash the £50,000 target they had initially set. Refusing to stop at that, they decided to up the ante and will now aim to raise £60,000 by the end of the weekend.
Gail Porter, who has famously spoken out about her own experience of depression, said: "A mental health problem can be indescribably scary – when suddenly faced with the prospect of doctors, hospitals, medication or therapy – you can feel totally alone. When I hit rock bottom it was the kindness of friends and family that got me through and I feel passionately that everyone deserves that support, to be listened to and reassured when the rest of your world has been turned upside-down.
"I’m terrified of heights and the thought of walking for 24 hours solid is horrendous. However through the Mind 3000s we hope to make £60,000 that Mind desperately needs for services like the Mind Infoline, which receives over 73,000 calls for help every year. Thanks to this ridiculous challenge Mind will be able to do more to support the many people who need them, and that fact alone makes it worth every step."
James Argent, who recently returned to The Only Way is Essex after recovering from a period anxiety and depression, said: "Over the past few months I’ve realised how important it is to have support around you when you’re going through a tough time. Simple things like a call or a text can make a massive difference.
"I know not everyone has that support, or feels they can talk to their family or mates about what they’re going through – but that’s exactly why Mind is here. In the last two years calls to their Infoline have gone up by 50%, showing just how many people rely on them. However, the charity can’t cope with this huge demand and needs more people to answer those calls – for this it needs your donations.
"Things have been hard for me lately but I feel exceptionally lucky – I have come through the other side with the love and care of those close to me. Now I want to help make sure other people can do the same. Hitting our new £60,000 target through the Mind 3000s will do just that!"
Matt Johnson, a TV presenter best known for his work on ITV's This Morning, the BBC's National Lottery and C5's OK!TV, said: "When I went through a period of severe depression, I felt so alone. I pushed people away and pretended everything was fine even when it really wasn’t. Eventually, I decided to open up. My Dad was the first person I told, and he was fantastic. It was my first step towards getting better.
"I didn’t know about Mind at the time - I wish I had done. I’m determined that, in taking on this trek, we’ll raise awareness and vital funds so no one has to face a mental health problem alone."
Anna Williamson, ITV Regular, Kids presenter and agony aunt and entertainment reporter for Digital Spy, said: "I know what it's like to experience a mental health problem, but talking to someone who understood was key to my recovery, in my case it was my Mum. If I'd known about Mind I could have had even more support and understanding.
"The Mind 3,000s is a colossal challenge but dealing with a mental health problem is no walk in the park either. I’m passionate about the work Mind does and will give this trek everything I’ve got, to ensure it raises the money so desperately needed."