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Monday 1 September 2014

Derry finds comfort in joining suicide awareness cycle

Kristy Blake Knox

Published 09/06/2014 | 02:30

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Cyclists at the start of the Console East West Cycle from Celbridge to Galway.
Colm Smyth, Ian Walsh, Chef Derry Clark and David O'Donoghoe at the start of the Console East West Cycle from Celbridge to Galway

CHEF Derry Clarke has described taking part in Console's suicide awareness charity cycle as "cathartic".

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Clarke was one of 250 cyclists who set off from Celbridge Manor Hotel at 6am on Saturday morning to cycle 200km to Galway.

"It was extremely physically challenging," he told the Irish Independent.

"If there hadn't been such a great team of people on board encouraging us along the way I don't know if I could have done it.

"Obviously for personal reasons Console is an extremely important charity to me and I respect what they do greatly. I found taking part in the cycle cathartic."

Clarke and wife Sallyanne lost their 16-year-old son Andrew to suicide in 2012.

He was found unconscious in their garage two days after Christmas and died on New Year's Eve.

"Four times as many people die from suicide than road deaths each year," Clarke said.

"Huge energies and funds are invested into road safety – and so there should be – but there needs to be awareness of suicide and the importance of opening up and talking.

"This is an ongoing issue."

Clarke, the owner of restaurant L'Ecrivain, is in training to take part in the 700km Paris 2 Nice Cycle in September to raise funds for the charity along with several other Irish chefs and restaurateurs including Chapter One's Ross Lewis and Warren Massey of L'Gueuleton.

It's no mean feat, especially for Derry, who had triple heart bypass surgery last Christmas.

He said: "I have another three months training so I plan on giving it my all – getting up early and getting a good cycle in before work.

"It'll be extremely hard going but I feel that I'm in the best shape of my life. I've lost weight and given up cigarettes.

"On top of that I know that the work Console does cannot be underestimated."

Console can be contacted at 18 0024 7247.

Irish Independent

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