SSI Smith's Charity Cycling for Mental Health

SSI Smith's Charity Cycling for Mental Health

17 July 2023

  • Cambridgeshire ACF

In today’s ever more complex world, the demand for mental health support is constantly growing. Cambridgeshire ACF understands the importance of this support, seeking to actively remove the stigma around mental health and encourage our members to get in touch with specialists if needed. Many of our members have additionally chosen to support particular charities, and this month SSI Anna Smith of Huntingdon Detachment chose to cycle 300 miles, the distance from London to Paris, to raise funds for Mind.

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SSI Smith with supportive colleagues at Waterbeach

Recovering from a knee injury and in need of regular exercise, she set out to cycle the distance, split into more manageable daily segments. Setting out to raise £150, she has already smashed it by raising £315 and now hopes to reach £500.

Mind was founded more than 70 years ago and has touched million of lives in that time. The charity has campaigned for changes in the law to help those affected by mental health issues, provided education, information and helplines, and constantly fought to encourage understanding and end prejudice. SSI Smith saw an appeal by Mind on Facebook one day and thought she would like to help. In doing so, she demonstrates many of the ACF’s Values and Standards, including Discipline and Selfless Commitment to Others. Additionally, through their support, her colleagues have demonstrated another of our most important Values - Loyalty.

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Some of her many social media updates.

She has been closely supported by colleagues and ex colleagues, including her 2 Coy CSM John Bland who has helped to ensure her safety by monitoring her location, and Major (Retd) Steve Swann who has worked on her bike. Many others have offered assistance also, including her OC, Major McAlinden, SMI (Retd) Frank Gardiner and SSI Dale Irving. Multiple other colleagues have donated and left encouraging messages on her fundraising page.

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In the Peak District.

Wearing a T-shirt supporting Mind and being associated with these issues also requires a certain amount of courage due to the stigma often attached to it, a problem she is determined to help overcome. SSI Smith is keen to lead by example and is making the most of the opportunities that the cycling challenge presents, posting regular videos and updates to her cadets encouraging exercise and enjoyment of the countryside. As well as cycling locally, she has visited the Peak District and used her bike to help her appreciate the spectacular scenery. She has also posted about the safety aspects of cycling, such as wearing a high-vis jacket and a helmet. Above all, she is really enjoying the challenge.

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In the Peak District.

‘Its been good to get out and I’ve done some fun stuff, I went through Hinchingbrooke Park and thought I would have a go on the swing, the slide and the outdoor gym! I feel as free as a bird, and it takes me away from work. It also gives me a chance to tell people about Mind and raise the profile of the charity locally. My Army Cadet colleagues have been fantastic, as has the Mind Facebook support group. I didn’t know what to expect when I enrolled as a member of the Mind Facebook page - I prepared myself to meet lots of unhappy people. However, what jumped out to me from this group of people is the support and encouragement members give each other to get out and ride. I think providing an ongoing supportive environment for those suffering, may improve or even save someone’s life. This is why I think cycling 300miles virtually from London to Paris to raise money for Mind is worthwhile… in fact I may even cycle back to London afterwards!’

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With locals in Hinchingbrooke Country Park.

You can support Anna at: https://www.facebook.com/donat...

Text by SI Doug Stuart