PNE fan in 202-mile pilgrimage to Deepdale to honour friend who died just weeks before his 22nd birthday

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A PNE fan is running 202 miles from his home in Devon to Deepdale - in honour of his friend who died just weeks before his 22nd birthday.

Rich Manning from Nomansland near Tiverton, wanted to try something unsual to raise money for the male suicide prevention charity Andy's Man Club (AMC), after close friend Jake ' JJ'Moyes took his own life in the summer.

He aims to run the distance by completing 1001 laps of the Witheridge Football Club pitch - 18 a day - a place close to Jake's heart since the age of 15.

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Rich Manning, 29Rich Manning, 29
Rich Manning, 29

Rich, 29, said: "I'm definitely not a runner.

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"I picked this challenge because I've done lots of things for charity, but people seem to sponsor me more when they can watch me suffer!

"It's not natural for me to do this much running and the conditions haven't been great.

"I've been doing my laps every night after work at 4.30pm when it's been going dark. The weather's been horrendous, the skies seem to open up just as I set off."

PNE fan Rich Manning running his laps in DevonPNE fan Rich Manning running his laps in Devon
PNE fan Rich Manning running his laps in Devon

Why do it?

Rich has been doing the running on his own, which he says is how he likes it - as a personal tribute to JJ after having previously been involved in a community-supported memorial football match.

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He has already smashed his initial; target of £500 but hopes to raise as much as possible.

He said: "At Jake's wake there was a lot of material about AMC and I hadn't really heard of it.

"I read up about it and wanted to do my bit raising funds and also raising awareness of the help that is out there for men."

Rich started the challenge on November 1 and hopes to complete it on Boxing Day.

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Discussions are underway with the club for Rich to run his final laps around Deepdale's hallowed turf before their Boxing Day match against Huddersfield Town.

He became a North End fan "by accident" aged 11 after being attracted by the "funny name" on a football manager computer game.

He said: "Every child around here supported Manchester United or Liverpool as it's a remote area.

"Growing up I didn't support anyone, so when I was playing on Fifa, I was looking through teams, saw Preston North End and thought it was a funny name and it's been my team ever since."

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Rich tries to go to as many away games as possible, as the travelling is often less from his home, but still gets to Deepdale around eight times a year.

He said: "It's funny because now I have loads of mates who live near me who also follow North End as their second team.

"They always keep an eye on the score and a lot like to wind me up about it."

What is Andy's Man Club?

Andy's Man Club was established in 2016 after the death of Andrew Roberts to suicide, aged 23.

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It facilitates non-professional peer-to-peer support groups across the UK and Scotland for any man to attend over 18 and provide a confidential, non-judgemental space for men to come together and chat about anything they would like to get off their chest. They also have no waiting list and no referral or signing-in process.

Click here for more information on Andy’s Man Club

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