Gil Barton is set to compete in the Cambridge half-marathon next month

A student whose uncle took his own life is aiming to put his best foot forward to raise money for mental health charities.

Gil Barton, 21, from West Bridgford is running the Cambridge half marathon on March 6 in aid of the Charlie Waller Trust – a charity that educates young people and their carers about mental health.

Gil, a former pupil at West Bridgford School, who is now studying psychology at Newcastle University, said his own experiences had motivated him to take up the challenge.

He added: “I’m motivated by a combination of personal battles with anxiety and depression, but also having a younger brother with acute OCD.

“I also have an uncle that took his own life last year, this just shows the prevalence of the issue.”

He is part of a trio all taking up the challenge for the Charlie Waller Trust, but he does admit it is a daunting prospect.

“I am aiming for a time of 2:10-15. I don’t have a lot of running experience, and only had seven weeks to train so I feel that this is a good goal to strive for.

“I have been aiming to do three runs a week, two being short runs and one being a long run.”

Mr Barton’s mother, Sarah Able, a PR and influencer manager, agreed with her son’s words regarding the long-lasting challenges of mental health.

She said: “I would say that our experience of OCD is that it doesn’t just live in the individual but very much in the home and can draw every member of the family in.

“Mental illness can be just as devastating to a person and their family as a serious physical illness – it interrupts lives, derails plans, and in extreme cases can lead to a person taking their own life.

“We need to ensure that young people are able to understand and look after their own mental health and to spot the signs in others, give them the confidence to speak out about the subject, and know how and where to access help, which is why organisations like Charlie Waller are so important.”

“I’m incredibly proud of both my sons in the way they tackle mental health, both from a lived experience and raising awareness and funds through taking part in activities such as this half marathon.”

Mr Barton hopes to raise £500 for the charity, and donations can be made to the Charlie Waller Trust here.