The first ever Newtownabbey Darkness Into Light suicide awareness walk raised more than €17,000 for two good causes, it has been confirmed.
Hundreds of people gathered at V36 park at the Valley Leisure Centre in the early hours of Saturday, May 7 for the sponsored walk/run.
Around 600 participants set off in darkness at 4.30am and walked or ran along a 5km route into the early morning light.
As well as raising awareness about the issues of suicide and self harm, Darkness Into Light 2016, supported by Electric Ireland, also raised much-needed funds for the Pieta House crisis centre and local charity Lighthouse.
The V36 walk - the first time the international event has been staged in Co Antrim - was organised by Newtownabbey woman Colette Snoddy in memory of her son Matthew, who tragically took his own life last year. She was supported by a committee of local volunteers, in conjunction with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. During the event, many people carried candles in memory of lost loved ones, while others wrote messages on the ‘Banner of Hope’.
Members of the local Darkness Into Light organising committee got together at Mossley Mill last week to hand over a cheque for more than 7,000 euro to Jo Murphy, co-ordinator of the Lighthouse charity.
Committee chairman, Cllr John Scott said this year’s event had raised in excess of 17,000 euro, which was split between Pieta House in Dublin and North Belfast-based Lighthouse.
“I would like to thank everyone who took part - we had more than 600 people turn up on the day which was incredible,” he said. “I’d also like to thank the organising committee, the council, Tesco and everyone else who supported the event, especially those who donated money. Without their generosity these organisations (Pieta House and Lighthouse) wouldn’t be able to operate and provide their vital suicide prevention services.”
Looking ahead to 2017, Cllr Scott added: “We are going to do it again next year and hopefully it will be even bigger and better, if that’s possible.”
Thanking all those who organised and supported the event, Jo Murphy said Lighthouse was “over the moon” with the donation.
“It’s absolutely amazing and on behalf of Lighthouse I’d just like to say a big thank you to Colette and all those who helped organise the event. This is really positive for us and the local area,” she commented.