'Walk of HOPE' event returns to South Shields as part of suicide prevention efforts

An annual event which sees members of the community walk in memory of someone lost to suicide is to return later this month.

The ‘Walk of HOPE’ event, set up by Angie Comerford, who is also co-founder of Hebburn Helps, sees people come together to remember loved ones and raise awareness about mental health struggles.

Angie lost her father, Brian Hannigan, to suicide in 2012 and has since then has worked tirelessly to help prevent others suffering such a terrible loss.

The Walk of HOPE, which is now in its fifth year, is intended as a way of bringing people together while walking and talking while honouring those lost.

Angie Comerford preparing for a previous Walk of HOPE.

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It is also intended to show anyone who battles with poor mental health and needs someone to talk to that support is available for them.

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Angie, 46, who lives in Hebburn, said: “The walk has grown a lot over the years which is pretty sad from a statistic side of things because sadly it means we are losing more people.”

This year the walk will also have a sister-event across the Atlantic.

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Angie taking part in a previous Walk of HOPE event

A friend of Angie’s in America, Jen Husco Foye, who lives in Massachusetts, lost her brother to suicide. She will take part in the walk at the same time where she lives.

Angie added: “To think that the walk has now gone international can only be a good thing to get the word out there. I find so much strength from doing the walk as does everyone that comes along.”

The event which is taking place Saturday, September 24, will see participants walk 11 miles from the Marsden Grotto to the Angel of the North carrying a banner with names of loved ones lost to suicide.

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Walkers set off at 5pm and take around four hours to complete the route. Everyone who joins in will receive a little bag of hope keepsake to take home with them.

If anyone would like a name added to the banner in memory of someone they’ve lost to suicide or would like to take part in the walk can message Walk of HOPE Facebook page.