Bradfords Building Supplies is launching a 10,000-mile challenge to mark this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (11-16 May), encouraging its staff to get moving outdoors across the region while raising £10,000 for its partner charity, Mental Health UK.

From 16 April, the Bradfords team has a month to cover the individual distances its members have set themselves, finishing on 16 May, the final day of awareness week. Collectively, they will aim to reach or exceed their 10,000-mile target and raise at least £10,000 for Mental Health UK in the process.

The idea was suggested by Bradfords’ team members Dean Gerrans, Branch Manager at the company’s Redruth site and Sam White, who leads the key accounts team in Plympton. Both aim to cover 400 miles each during the course of the challenge.

Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week has been given "nature" as this year's theme with an aim of encouraging everyone to share in the natural world and experience the mental health benefits.

Dean Gerrans, Branch Manager at Bradfords in Redruth, said: “Mental health is a topic close to my heart.  Having taken up cycling during lockdown and found it a perfect way to connect with the stunning coastline of my home county, Cornwall, I felt it was time to give something back.  And so, the Westcountry 10,000 was born.

“My best friend and army colleague was tragically killed in front of me in Iraq in 2006.  This left a lasting impact that I was still struggling with 10 years later.  In 2015, finally taking the decision to try to move on and get over the event and its consequences, I worked with local mental health agency, Outlook South West. 

“Five years on, and I am now able to open up, talk about my past and mental wellbeing.  The support I got was invaluable, and so I’m so pleased that with my fellow Bradfords colleagues I can now help others who are perhaps on a similar journey to the one that I was helped through.”

Mental health is a subject that the South West-based firm is only too familiar with, as David Young, CEO at Bradfords, explained: “As a company that serves the construction sector, we’re aware of the shocking mental health statistics from our industry, so this partnership will help us to do more to tackle to stigma that still exists and help support our customers. 

“We’re delighted to be partnered with Mental Health UK and the approach of this year’s national Mental Health Awareness Week was just the catalyst we needed to turn Dean and Sam’s idea into something worthy of their enthusiasm to support the mental health agenda.

“The health benefits of spending time in the great outdoors are well recognised and this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is a great opportunity for our team to get out for some exercise in places they already love, or even take the chance to explore somewhere new, while raising funds and awareness for such an important cause.’

“Whether they want to walk, cycle, run, swim, paddle – or any other way to get moving outdoors – we want as many of our team as possible to contribute to the target and help us raise £10,000 for this important cause.”

To capture their experiences and share the beauty and inspiration they find in the natural world, those taking part have been encouraged to take photos or record short videos or audio clips explaining why those places have meaning to them.

Sam White, who leads the key accounts team at Bradfords in Plympton, added, “The South West is a great place to live and we’re lucky to have close access to miles of scenic countryside and coast.

“Capturing our experiences on this challenge is a chance to share what’s on our doorstep while reminding others of the many benefits of spending time in nature.”

-> Donate to Bradfords’ Mental Health Awareness Week challenge