Hundreds walk from Darkness Into Light

Melissa Bell, Kathleen Magee and Nicola Magee were among those who took part in the Darkness Into Light walk in Newtownabbey. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye
Melissa Bell, Kathleen Magee and Nicola Magee were among those who took part in the Darkness Into Light walk in Newtownabbey. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

Hundreds of people gathered at the V36 park in the early hours of Saturday, May 7 for the Darkness Into Light suicide awareness walk.

More than 500 people took part in the event, which saw participants set off in darkness at 4.30am and walk or run along a 5km route into the early morning light.

Mayor Thomas Hogg and Jo Murphy from the Lighthouse charity were among those who walked from Darkness Into Light at V36 on Saturday morning. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

Mayor Thomas Hogg and Jo Murphy from the Lighthouse charity were among those who walked from Darkness Into Light at V36 on Saturday morning. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

As well as raising awareness about the issues of suicide and self harm, Darkness Into Light 2016, supported by Electric Ireland, also raised thousands of pounds for the Pieta House crisis centre and local charity Lighthouse.

The V36 (Valley Park) walk - the first time the international event has come to 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’.

Andrew Wilson, Susan Thompson, Lisa McAllister and Sarah Wilson were  among those who walked from Darkness Into Light, demonstrating the power within their community to bring suicide out of the darkness.
 Pic by Kelvin Boyes

Andrew Wilson, Susan Thompson, Lisa McAllister and Sarah Wilson were among those who walked from Darkness Into Light, demonstrating the power within their community to bring suicide out of the darkness. Pic by Kelvin Boyes

Reflecting on the success of the first ever Darkness Into Light walk in Newtownabbey, Mrs Snoddy said: “It was great; a very moving but very uplifting experience. It was really lovely and I was really pleased that so many people came out at that time of the morning to take part.”

Mrs Snoddy knows that suicide is a “taboo subject” for many, but hopes that events such as Darkness Into Light will encourage more people to be open and talk about suicide, bringing hope to those in crisis.

Chairman of the DIL organising committee, Cllr John Scott, who lost his sister and a nephew to suicide last year, described the turnout for the walk as “amazing”.

“I was there from about 2.30am and one by one you just saw the cars coming in and before we knew it they were tailed right back on to Church Road. It was absolutely fantastic,” he said.

The Campbell family at Darkness Into Light 2016. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

The Campbell family at Darkness Into Light 2016. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

“We lifted over £3,000 on the morning itself, but there is a lot more money to come in.”

Cllr Scott thanked all those who took part or supported the event, particularly Tesco Newtownabbey which supplied water, fruit and energy bars for the participants.

He added: “We’re really, really pleased with how it went. It was really emotional and a lot of people were crying, but the main thing that came out of the whole thing was the feeling of hope that people shared.”

Cllr John Scott, chairman of the organising committee, speaking to the media at Darkness Into Light at V36. Pic by Kelvin Boyes

Cllr John Scott, chairman of the organising committee, speaking to the media at Darkness Into Light at V36. Pic by Kelvin Boyes

Lucy Simpson and Fiona Lavelle were among those who took part in Darkness Into Light. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

Lucy Simpson and Fiona Lavelle were among those who took part in Darkness Into Light. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

Christina Agre and Karen Jamison were among those who walked from Darkness Into Light on Saturday morning at V36 Valley Park, Newtownabbey in support of Pieta House and Lighthouse. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

Christina Agre and Karen Jamison were among those who walked from Darkness Into Light on Saturday morning at V36 Valley Park, Newtownabbey in support of Pieta House and Lighthouse. Pic by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye