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Lyndsay Walker is a man on a mission

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Novocastrian Lyndsay Walker is a man on a mission.

And, he’s about to prove that in a huge way.

On Thursday 1 June, from 7am, the 48-year-old will spend 24 hours walking up and down the arduous Strzelecki Hill.

But, before you think he’s a little crazy, Walker has a terrific reason… he’s keen to raise awareness for mental health and a platform he’s created with partner Vicki Mendyk called UMatter.

Lyndsay Walker and Vicki Mendyk. Photo: Rod Thompson

“Yeah, I know it will be gruelling,” he said.

“Especially undertaking it from 7am until 7am the next day.

“It’s one-kilometre up and one-kilometre down, so I’ll be doing a lot of it in the dark.

“For me, I keep myself active all the time, however I will need to up my game to complete this challenge.

“I think many people experiencing mental health issues, they’re probably in the dark a lot, too.

“So, this [quest] correlates with that.

“I’ll go through the dark and finish in the light.

“That’s what I want to get across to people.

“And, if you have the conversation (with someone), the light will come.”

It’s not the first time Walker has donned the walking shoes for a good cause, along with Mendyk.

The pair completed 67km, in 12 hours, earlier this year at Maitland.

“I’ve done a few events in the past, such as the Newy100 for Lifeline and a 50,000-stair climb challenge for Soldier On,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“So, I have always been an advocate for mental health just purely in my own life, especially after my marriage breakdown.

“I’m now with Vicki, who’s also experienced heartbreak.

“She lost her husband (Peter) in 2017 and then her 19-year-old daughter (Chelsea) five months later, both to suicide, so she has a very powerful story to tell.

“We’re determined to keep their memories alive while trying to prevent other families from experiencing what Vicki’s gone through.

“So, if we can share our stories – and raise awareness – that might help others.

“Hopefully, we’ll entice people to have the conversation about how they’re feeling.”

Walker admitted he was also keen to lift the profile of the duo’s collaborative initiative UMatter.

“Basically, it’s purely about informing others ‘you matter’,” he said.

“People need to look after themselves all the time… and actively invest in their physical and mental health to stay healthy.

“You put petrol in a car to keep it running.

“So, you should put something into your mental health daily, so you’re functioning well.

“Each day we need to hydrate, eat nutritious food and lock the front door before we leave the house.

“However, to get through that, on a daily basis, we need our mind.

“The question is for it to function properly, what do we do to keep it healthy?

“At the same time, if you are doing well at the moment, how can you ensure you keep building a solid platform to cope when a tough season comes?

“UMatter has real life experience of what true trauma and sadness is… and we will always encourage everyone to seek help even for the smallest uncertainty.

“That’s why we’re trying to promote as many community-based organisations as we can, too.

“Currently, we’re advocating for the Maitland Region Suicide Prevention Network and the Lake Macquarie & Newcastle Suicide Prevention Network.

“We just want to get behind them, as well as the community, and hope people are looking after themselves.

“If we can change someone’s life, that’s brilliant.

“You’re only one decision away from turning your life around by having a conversation.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do that on the day [1 June], or at various events or at the park.

“I’m happy to chat to anyone about where they’re at.

“Having a conversation and being active are two things I certainly recommend.”

Interested people can follow UMatter on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/umatter_awareness/

If you or someone you know needs help, contact:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800
  • Men’s Line – 1300 789 978

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