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Sporting ambassadors, Ben Gallagher and Patrick Foster from The Mintridge Foundation shared their inspirational and thought-provoking experiences on mental health with students and staff for Mental Health Awareness Week. The talk was also part of the series of ‘NES Talks’ (Nescot Educational seminars) to encourage and motivate our learners.

Ben is an explorer and para rower and Patrick is a former professional cricketer and recovering gambling addict. Around 500 staff and students listened to their stories of resilience, overcoming addiction and trauma which were profound and overwhelming.

Julie Kapsalis, Principal and CEO said, “Thank you to The Mintridge Foundation for visiting Nescot and to Ben and Patrick for sharing their incredible journeys. You have made us a community stop, think and reflect. Mental health awareness must be more than a day or a week of events – it must be something we talk about every day. There is more to do but we will keep talking and supporting each other with kindness and compassion.

“Thanks also to the Max Hunter Foundation. Their generosity in supporting the event is hugely valued and appreciated.”

Ben Gallagher, an explorer and para rower is a 2023 Invictus Games gold medallist and endurance athlete. He is an advocate of mental health having suffered mental illness and been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He shared his experiences of dealing with complex trauma and overcoming adversity before going on to achieve world first and recording breaking challenges.

Patrick Foster, former professional cricketer, spoke with searing honesty about how his life was changed through a gambling addiction. He spoke about what he’s learnt and the strategies he continues to use to maintain and promote his continuing mental and physical health. He also gave valuable advice on wellbeing and supporting friends and family.

The Mintridge Foundation is a charity which aims to use sport and positive role models to help young people to develop confidence and resilience and to protect their mental and physical wellbeing. Ben and Patrick are part of the Foundation’s Lived Experiences Roadshow for Mental Health Awareness Week. The roadshow is supported by the Max Hunter Fund, which was set up in memory of popular sportsman Max, who died by suicide in summer 2019.

Students and staff at Nescot are taking part in a range of activities for Mental Health Awareness Week, 13 – 19 May 2024.The activities promote five ways of wellbeing – Connect, Be Active, Take Note, Keep Learning and Give.