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Running the La Valette Marathon to raise suicide awareness

Andy Farrer (right) poses with his partner Wilma.

Running a full marathon had always been the dream of Andy Farrer.

In 2010, he fulfilled his ambition when he took part in the Belfast Marathon.

Two years later, a serious back injury seriously jeopardised his hopes of running again, let alone being able to be on the starting line of another marathon.

But two years later, he managed to compete in the Belfast Marathon and went on to race in the London Marathon where he did it for a noble cause as he collected funds for VICTA, a charity that helps blind and partially- blind children.

“I always wanted to run a marathon and in 2010 I took part in the Belfast Marathon and after that I sincerely thought that was it,” Farrer said.

“Then in 2012 I broke my spine and thought I would never run again. But in 2014 I ran the Belfast Marathon again with no training and since then I kept participating in the race every year as well as the London Marathon which I first ran in 2015 for VICTA – a blind and partially blind children’s charity and have done so every year since.”

In November 2016, Farrell’s life changed completely as he lost his girlfriend Wilma who had committed suicide.

And since then he continued to run marathons with a new perspective – trying to raise Suicide Awareness.

“I lost my girlfriend to suicide on November 9, 2016,” Farrer recalls.

“I have since run marathons in Belfast, Dublin, London, Chicago and Berlin, while I ran the London Marathon during Lockdown in my 110 metres culdesac… which was probably one of the hardest I have ever done as I was also carrying my ironing board and iron in my hands.”

Asked why he runs his marathons carrying an Ironing board and an iron, Farrer said:

“I go the EXPOs to collect running numbers dressed as iron man, but don’t run in it. Before I lost my girlfriend to suicide we had took up extreme ironing where you take an ironing board and iron to way out places – beaches, top of mountains, bus stops – just for fun and a photo.

“When I lost Wilma I realised I wanted to try raise suicide awareness at every opportunity so I spoke to Minky Homecare, that manufacture ironing boards and irons, and told them what I would like to do and asked for help and they now supply me with Portrush Iron Man, Gilard (my teddy dog that was hugging Wilma when I lost her ), ironing board covers, ironing boards and irons.

“Standing at the starting line with a full-size ironing board and iron, with a message to raise suicide awareness, inevitably makes people speak to me about it and inevitably gets people discuss the problem.

“To run a marathon is hard… but to carry a full-size ironing board and iron in your hands is much, much tougher.”

In February next year, Farrer will continue his awareness campaign when he flies to Malta to take part in the second edition of the Intersport La Valette Marathon on February 5.

Farrer plans to compete in the race with the aim of raising funds for the Richmond Foundation.

“At the London EXPO, I was asked for a photo at the La Valette Malta Marathon stand and got talking to the lovely people who were at the stall and told them what I do and was asked to come to Malta and help raise suicide awareness which I can’t wait for and am so proud to be asked,” he said with a smile.

Farrer admitted that he would be delighted if he is joined by other local runners to help him raise suicide awareness.

Asked what people can do to help him raise funds for the cause, he replied: “I am going to set up a page where people can log in and give their donations for the Richmond Foundation.

“I will also do a Name the Bear card which people pick as many names on the card for £5 a name and half goes to winner and half goes to Richmond Foundation.

“The most important message I want to send through my initiative is that there is always help and no one will judge you if you ask for help. It’s ok not to be ok.”

The second edition of the Intersport La Valette Malta Marathon takes place on February 5, 2023.

The Intersport La Valette Malta Marathon is supported by Visit Malta.

For more details on the race and registration log onto https:// corsa.mt or send a whatsapp message on  79979999.

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