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Josh, 26, from Halewood, is one of 96 people – each walking in memory of someone who lost their life at Hillsborough – getting ready to conquer Ben Nevis in Scotland this summer.
“Personally, I couldn’t think of anything worse to do on a Saturday,” smiles Josh, “I’d much rather go to the pub.
“But, seriously, we want to raise as much money as possible for our three chosen charities, supporting children and mental health. And if people can donate £1, a tenner or more, that would be great.”
Josh came up with the idea for the walk on June 12 after struggling to cope through lockdown, and realising that he wasn’t alone.
The Last Tango in Halifax and Benidorm actor says: “I’m not ashamed to say it has affected me.
“I’m stuck in Halewood – lovely though that is, with my family – and you do your run and you Facetime your mates and family and you wonder then what else am I going to do?
“There’s a lot of people who have and are suffering from mental health issues, I have family members, friends, people I’ve worked with – I have had my battles in the past – and, more than ever it’s becoming a struggle for everyone. Last year I felt I didn’t achieve anything.
“I read a statistic the other day that said kids as young as 12 to grown men as old as 78 are taking their own lives through mental illness – and that’s horrendous.
“So I decided to do something.”
Josh, who has launched a fundraising page on virginmoneygiving.com with hundreds raised already, talked to friends about the Ben Nevis climb, realising that it would also give them all a goal and a reason to keep active.
And, it was one of them who came up with the idea of 96 taking part so that, not only would it raise money for three important charities, but it would also honour the memory of the 96 football fans who died on April 15, 1989.
The Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool, a leading homeless charity in the city which works with people who are sleeping rough, living in hostels or struggling to manage their accommodation.
YPAS (Young Person’s Advisory Service), based in Bolton Street, which provides mental health and emotional wellbeing services for Liverpool’s children, young people and families,
SAMH (the Scottish Association for Mental Health) because ‘we’re using Scotland’s mountain, it seemed right we should give something to Scotland too’.
Josh, who also appeared in the George Clooney Hulu drama, Catch-22, in 2019, and starred in the Anthony Walker biopic, written by Jimmy McGovern, says so many people have been affected by the pandemic and continue to be as time goes by.
“We all have our ups and downs but friends have called because they’re so low, and I cry at anything these days, but I think the important thing is not to beat ourselves up about it or be too hard on ourselves. It’s difficult, and it’s shocking how many people are living with this demon.
“The climb up Ben Nevis gives us a focus and helps to raise money for mental health charities. We have chosen June because, fingers crossed, we should be able to do it by then and, if not, then we will do it another time. But we will do it.
“It’s a lovely mix of guys from 18 to men in their late 60s who might be struggling with mental health or know someone who is, and who have all come together through me talking with friends, and them their friends and then making a Facebook group before Christmas.
“It apparently takes about nine hours to get up Ben Nevis and five hours to come down, but we’re not looking to be the fastest, just to do it and complete it.”
Josh says: “The nice thing that this last year has shown us is how people have come together to support one another. There’s still a lot of human decency, especially in the north, and amazing people have done amazing things and I want to contribute something too.
“And I’m so lucky to come from this city. Liverpool gets behind its own and I believe a lot of Liverpudlians will support this and us, and people with mental illness.”
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