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Friends and family of Cromer teenager Nyall ‘Smiley’ Brown to raise money for Mind in his memory

PUBLISHED: 06:30 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:54 25 July 2018

Nyall Brown    Picture: Mearl Brown

Nyall Brown Picture: Mearl Brown

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A coastal community remains devastated at the loss of a popular teenager. Nyall ‘Smiley’ Brown, 19, died in May after a battle with mental illness. Now, his family and friends want something positive to come from their grief. JESSICA FRANK-KEYES reports...

Ash and Kharn at The Grove. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesAsh and Kharn at The Grove. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Two months after his death at a Norwich hospital, the family and friends of a much-loved Cromer teenager are coming to terms with their loss.

19-year-old Nyall Brown, nicknamed ‘Smiley’, died on Tuesday, May 22 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) after battling with mental illness.

And his death rocked the town’s close knit community, with standing room only at his funeral, on Wednesday, June 20.

Staff at The Grove in Cromer are supporting Ash Palmer's fundraising in memory of Nyall. (L - R): Zeke Downes, 19, Kharn Brown, Reis Khalil, 24, Ash Palmer, Ernie De Neve, 19, and Amy Gibson, 22. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesStaff at The Grove in Cromer are supporting Ash Palmer's fundraising in memory of Nyall. (L - R): Zeke Downes, 19, Kharn Brown, Reis Khalil, 24, Ash Palmer, Ernie De Neve, 19, and Amy Gibson, 22. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Now Nyall’s brother Kharn, 20, has spoken out to encourage other’s in his brother’s position to seek help.

He said: “Seeing him get ill was the hardest bit. If you tried to help him, it would just drive him away.

“He just wanted to get on and get through it on his own.

“He’d just try and help everyone but it just got to the point where he didn’t know how to ask for help himself.

Ash and Kharn at The Grove. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesAsh and Kharn at The Grove. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

“When you get someone like Nyall, who was always the joy of the place, making people laugh, a nicer boy you’d never meet.

“He was the last person you’d expect to go through it.”

Mr Brown encouraged others who are struggling to speak to those around them, and said: “You want people who are feeling the way he was to be able to speak their mind so it doesn’t lead to what happened to him.

“The amount of messages I got in the days after, saying they couldn’t believe it - too many to count.”

Nyall Brown    Picture: Mearl BrownNyall Brown Picture: Mearl Brown

Read more: ‘He wore his heart on his sleeve’ - Cromer mourns much loved teenager Nyall ‘Smiley’ Brown

Nyall’s friend and colleague, Ash Palmer, 21, has also paid tribute to him, and described his death as “a tragic loss”.

The pair worked together, alongside Nyall’s brother, at The Grove, in Cromer, where the staff were shaken by his death.

And now Mr Palmer, from Northrepps, is preparing to cycle from London to Paris to raise money for charities Mind and the East Anglian Air Ambulance in his friend’s memory.

Staff at The Grove in Cromer are supporting Ash Palmer's fundraising in memory of Nyall. (L - R): Zeke Downes, 19, Kharn Brown, Reis Khalil, 24, Ash Palmer, Ernie De Neve, 19, and Amy Gibson, 22. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesStaff at The Grove in Cromer are supporting Ash Palmer's fundraising in memory of Nyall. (L - R): Zeke Downes, 19, Kharn Brown, Reis Khalil, 24, Ash Palmer, Ernie De Neve, 19, and Amy Gibson, 22. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

The 190 mile ride will take three days, beginning on Friday, August 24, until Sunday, August 26.

Mr Palmer said: “I’ve always wanted to do a big challenge and this is the biggest one that I’ve done so far.

“I just thought it was a good charity to do in memory of Nyall.

“He was a good friend, a great colleague to work with.

“It’s a tragic loss.”

Mr Palmer, who works at the hotel as a chef, is hoping to raise at least £500 in his friend’s memory, and has set up a fundraising page for donations.

“I want to get it out there as much as I can,” he said.

“I put on JustGiving a total of £500 but I’m going to let that roll, and I won’t stop it on the day.

“I’m just going let people carry on donating.”

He explained: “Cycling is a passion of mine.

“I always wanted to do a long ride and I just thought to include Nyall in it as well.

“We’ve known each other quite a while now, for a few years.

“We did Beach Mission together, and we did Cubs.

“He was so funny. People loved him, he had his ways about him, and he was a great person to work with.”

Mr Palmer added that the distance would be challenging, and said: “I am nervous, because I’ve only done 100-120 miles before and this is another 70 on top.

“I’m not too sure how I’m going to feel, especially in the dark and with the weather conditions.

“I’m trying to train whenever I can, but its hard being a chef, as the hours aren’t great.

“Towards the end of the ride I am going to be winging it and just pushing through to the end.”

Read more: Town mourns teenage athlete and skatepark campaigner ‘Smiley Nyall’

And fellow chef Mr Brown said he was fully supportive of Mr Palmer’s idea in memory of his younger brother.

“I’m absolutely staggered that he’s doing it,” he said.

“I still can’t believe it to be honest. He’s never cycled 200 miles - its a big distance.”

Both men agreed that the cycling challenge was a fitting tribute to the active teenager, who loved football, BMX tricks, and was instrumental in setting up the Cromer skatepark.

Mr Brown said: “It started off with little wooden ramps they built themselves down North Lodge Park.

“And they ended up pushing for a committee to build a skatepark - and now loads of people use it.

“He was always big on his football as well.”

Mr Palmer added: “We had all his football and running trophies up at The Grove for his wake.

“The boy didn’t stop.”

To make a donation to Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind and the East Anglian Air Ambulance in support of Mr Palmer and in memory of Nyall, please visit Mr Palmer’s JustGiving page.

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