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Runner who almost took his life urges others to run and talk

Dave Thomas, who organised the run and talk event. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Dave Thomas, who organised the run and talk event. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Geraldine Scott

When Dave Thomas was at his lowest, he found himself walking into the water in Salthouse in an attempt to end his life.

Runners at the run and talk event at Waterloo Park. Photo: Geraldine ScottRunners at the run and talk event at Waterloo Park. Photo: Geraldine Scott

And it has not been an easy 12 months for the keen Norwich runner, who suffered a stroke midway through a parkrun event in July.

But now fighting fit - both mentally and physically - Mr Thomas, 35, is encouraging others to talk about their mental health by getting involved in fitness.

Mr Thomas was diagnosed with clinical depression last January. But he said: “I had been unwell for a long time. On Boxing Day 2017 I drove myself to Salthouse and started walking into the water.”

The accounting firm manager said he stopped himself, but it showed him he needed help.

Sophie Macrae (right) and training partner Lizze Green at the run and talk event at Waterloo Park. Photo: Geraldine ScottSophie Macrae (right) and training partner Lizze Green at the run and talk event at Waterloo Park. Photo: Geraldine Scott

As well as getting help from the Wellbeing service and private therapy, he also said running had been a lifeline and he had joined the Norwich Road Runners club.

“It helps me deal with the day to day battle,” he said.

In July, the running community came to his rescue again when Mr Thomas collapsed at the halfway mark of the 5K Catton parkrun course in Norwich.

He had suffered a minor stroke and he said it put things in perspective, especially as the cause still is not known and could well have been related to stress.

Dave Thomas at the run and talk event at Waterlook Park. Photo: Geraldine ScottDave Thomas at the run and talk event at Waterlook Park. Photo: Geraldine Scott

“It changed how I felt and how I felt as me,” he said. “I’d never say it was near death but it makes you think.”

Mr Thomas organised the Run and Talk event at Waterloo Park on Sunday to encourage people to speak out about their mental health. He said: “The key thing I want from this is we’re going to more of this and to show the things you can do for free to help your mental health.”

One of those who attended the event yesterday was Joe Woodley, 41, and from Norwich.

Mr Woodley said he suffered with anxiety - made even more difficult by sometimes having anxiety attacks while running.

But he said: “It’s that feeling of freedom from everything. It can be a vicious circle but this event is great.”

Sophie Macrae, 27, also started running to help her mental health after suffering with depression. And now she’s planning on running the Brighton marathon with training partner Lizze Green.

“I did not think I’d be doing that two years ago,” she said. “Once I started I couldn’t believe how many other people ran for their mental health too.”

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