A Wesham man's 600 mile cycling challenge to help others get the support he didn’t

Gareth Millar nearly died in 2019, and was unable to access the mental health provision he needed, so he wants to make sure others feel more supported.

By Aimee Seddon
Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 2:46 pm

A man from Wesham is cycling 600 miles this month to raise money for Lancashire Mind so that other people can access the services he was unable to when he was most in need.

Lancashire Mind’s 600 Mile September Challenge started yesterday, which encourages supporters to cycle, run or walk 600 miles in one month to raise vital funds, but whilst most people complete the challenge in teams, Gareth Millar, 38, is taking it on by himself.

Gareth, who is originally from Northern Ireland but has lived in the area for twenty years, said: “I had life saving surgery just over two years ago which left me needing a colonoscopy bag at the age of 36, and there was no help available to deal with it mentally, so I don’t want anyone else to be in that position where there’s no help available to them.”

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Gareth will be doing a mix of indoor and outdoor cycling for the challenge, including cycling along the Fylde coast

“And obviously with the covid situation, there’s loads of people struggling with their mental health, I think there were 3 suicides in the North West last week so we need more support and the services aren’t there.”

In 2019, an undiagnosed condition caused Gareth’s bowels to burst, which led to him contracting sepsis, and being told he would die without surgery. The operation left him with a colonoscopy bag, and Gareth says he was unable to access any support to deal with the toll of this.

Gareth, a sales director at GB Enterprise Solutions, explained: “That really mentally affects you, living life with a colonoscopy bag, and making noises you have no control over, especially when you’re in business meetings, but no funding was available for people who weren’t cancer patients, so despite having the same operation as someone with bowel cancer, I didn’t get any NHS funding.”

This 600 mile challenge will be Gareth’s first time fundraising for Lancashire Mind, and he is already off to a flying start, having cycled 10% of his goal in his first day.

Gareth, originally from Northern Ireland, now lives with his fiance in Wesham.

Gareth added that “it’s hard to get the word out there” about his campaign, so says that “any donations whatsoever” will be greatly appreciated.

Despite his claimed struggles, Gareth is currently the individual who has fundraised the most for the Lancashire Mind challenge, having raised £305 on his JustGiving page.

Gareth said: “I’m excited about the challenge, but I’m very disappointed about the lack of support, to think only £500 has been raised in total is diabolical, considering the amount of people who commit suicide, the amount of people who struggle. All of this goes on and still no one’s getting behind it so the bit that worries me is sponsorship. 1 in 4 people are going to suffer mental health, and people around us are committing suicide, so why don’t we try to prevent it?”

Lancashire Mind is a mental health charity which campaigns for greater mental wellbeing across the local area, with services ranging from awareness lessons in schools, to providing one-to-one coaching and even providing housing to help people return to independent living.

To donate to Gareth’s fundraiser, visit his JustGiving page.