Couple from Aylesbury Village launch fundraiser for suicide prevention after brother's tragic death

"On the surface he was a happy go lucky guy, extremely smart, popular and eager to make people laugh"
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A couple who lives in an Aylesbury village have launched a fundraising campaign for suicide prevention causes after they lost a brother and brother-in-law last year.

George and Cindy Downey are walking 250 miles for Hector's House in memory of Pat Kenny.

Pat was George's brother, he took his own life on 7 February 2020, now the pair are raising money for mental health causes.

Cindy and George DowneyCindy and George Downey
Cindy and George Downey

Cindy said on the couple's fundraising which can be viewed here: "Pat was my kindred spirit, he would often come stay with us to look after our doggy’s and spend time with us.

"There wasn’t a bad bone in his body. He’d do anything to help you, he was loved by all that knew him, he loved a party and was great company."

George believes Pat's struggles started when his father took his own life when his brother was just 16.

He said: "His world was turned upside down as a 16-year-old about to sit his GCSEs when his father took his own life in 2010.

Pat KennyPat Kenny
Pat Kenny

"What followed was eight years of suffering in silence, those closest to him unaware of the invisible struggle and the inner demons that drained his energy, while on the surface he was a happy go lucky guy, extremely smart, popular and eager to make people laugh.

"The next two years were more of an open battle with depression and various signs that Pat was finding life tough.

"After a number of what seemed like isolated individual incidents, his mood lifted and he seemed to have a new lease of life entering 2020, starting a cooking blog and sharing positivity.

"Sadly, Pat took his own life on 7 Feb 2020 aged just 25 years old, devastating not only his nearest and dearest but also the wider community, where he had made a lasting impact on people’s lives. A shrine in his local pub is testament to this."

On July 22, the couple will walk for 14 straight days, completing 25 miles per day, on a carefully chosen route of great significance to them and their family.

George said: "The walk will start at the house where my mum went into labour with Pat and is next to the house my grandad took his own life in on 4 Dec 1980, we will then walk to the house my dad took his own life in on 21 May 2010, before proceeding to the hospital where Pat was born on 14 May 1994.

"On the way out of Glasgow we will pass by the house my uncle took his own life in on 13 Feb 2002, embarking on a 350 mile walk to the spot where Pat sadly took his own life in St Neots High Street on 7 Feb 2020.

"We will walk 25 miles per day for 14 days to commemorate Pats 25 years in this world and both the date of his birthday 14 May and the date of his funeral 14 Apr.

"We welcome people to join us on the walk for whatever distance they wish and to chat over breakfast, lunch or dinner. We will update locations in advance nearer to the time."

Suicide has had a lasting and devastating impact on this family's lives, George detailed just how prevalent an issue it has been.

He added: "Suicide was impacting those closest to me even before I was born. My maternal Grandad took his own life the year before I was born and my mum, then a 17-year-old girl discovered his body.

"Fast forward 22 years and my mum's favourite maternal uncle killed himself just as my grandad had all those years before. This was devastating for her.

"Fast forward another eight years and the man I called dad, my mum's ex-husband and Pat's dad also took his own life. Then we come to 2020 and we lose Pat, beautiful Pat to suicide, the youngest of all four males from the same family over a 40-year period to take their own lives."

George became aware of Hector's House, after deciding to make a career change, solely motivated by Pat's death.

Hector's House is a grassroots suicide prevention charity, set-up in memory of an 18-year-old called Hector Stringer who took his own life, the charity is run by close family members.

George said: "Losing Pat encouraged me to train as a counselling therapist and through this I had a chance meeting with the CEO (Lotte Stringer) of the suicide prevention charity Hectors House.

"What her and her family are achieving in supporting and raising awareness for suicide prevention is so inspiring and has inspired me to complete this walk to raise much needed awareness and funds for such an important cause, which affects our society daily."

You can access the fundraising page here, at the time of writing £450 has been raised. The couple have set a £3,500 target.

Cindy said: "I want to raise mental health and suicide prevention awareness, if I can help just one person to see there is another way, if I can help this charity to help others, then every step will be worth it."

A Facebook page has also been set up to chronicle the family's journey, paying tribute to Pat.