Thousands gather to walk for Pieta House
HOPE was in the air at Bray's bandstand on the seafront last Saturday where thousands gathered to walk or run for Pieta House.
It was the 'Darkness into Light' event, and the first time the nationwide fundraiser for the suicide charity came to Bray. The support for the challenge was overwhelming as 2,300 people took part.
This was one location of 37 all over Ireland, two overseas in London and Sydney, and 80,000 participants.
The crowd were addressed by Peter Hurley human resource manager with Pieta House who read a message of hope on behalf of founder and ceo Joan Freeman.
Voice of Ireland presenter Owen McDermot set the participants on their way.
Some did the 5km route to remember a loved one who had taken their own life, others to help improve their fitness, and many as a show of solidarity with those suffering from mental health issues.
They ranged in age from children to the elderly and started the route in darkness, with the sun rising as they finished.
After a tough climb on the Putland Hill it was all downhill and a great morning's work. There were breakfast rolls, cereal bars and hot drinks waiting for everyone at the finish line.
'There was a highly charged and emotional atmosphere and the event was a major success,' said Danny Bohan who is PRO of the Pieta House Bray Committee.
The theme for this year's Darkness into Light was 'Mind Our Men'. Because men are four times more likely than women to take their own lives, participants were encouraged to bring a male friend or family member with them on the walk.
Pieta House is a suicide and self-harm crisis centre founded in Lucan, Co. Dublin in 2006 by psychologist Joan Freeman.
With nine centres throughout Ireland, Pieta House provides a professional, one-to-one therapeutic service for those who are experiencing suicidal ideation or engaging in self-harm.
A doctor's referral or a psychiatric report is not required and the service is completely free of charge.