A BIRSTALL man has helped to raise nearly £400,000 for Mental Health UK after taking part in a trek through the jungles of Cambodia.
Mark Waters, of Shirley Avenue, Birstall, was chosen from a pool of more than 700 applicants from workers at Lloyds Banking Group to join the fundraiser in Southeast Asia.
Mr Waters applied for a place on the work trip by sharing details of his battle with PTSD, anxiety and depression – brought on by the sudden death of his father.
He wrote on his JustGiving page: “A week before my dad died, we had a big fallout. I didn’t know at the time but that would be the last interaction we had.
“Years passed and I was getting more and more depressed and it was only after 10 years that I said ‘this has ruined my life for too long, I need to get help’.”
The 35-year-old has since learned to manage his mental health and said the main reason he wanted to take part in the fundraiser was to “prove you can come through the worst times in your life”.
The group left for Cambodia on October 12 and trekked over 120 kilometres in just five days.
“People often say things are life-changing but I’ve come back from the trip with a totally different perspective on life and what’s important,” said Mr Waters.
The father-of-three raised around £6,500 and has vowed to continue spreading awareness of mental health to encourage others to speak out.
“I waited 10 years to get the help that I needed and I want to make sure that if people are struggling, they reach out,” he added.
“The hardest part is to admit that you need help and not bury your head in the sand, like I did. Once you get that support, you feel like a cloud has been lifted.”
Since his return to the UK, Mr Waters has begun planning the launch of a new charity with co-worker Matt Norton, which would provide schools in Cambodia with stationery for pupils.
He said: "We want to build a relationship with schools, head back over there and focus on what they need.
“Initially, we aim to provide pupils with the tools they need for a basic education but going forward we’d like to help them with re-building classrooms and improving facilities.
“It’s still in the very early stages but a lot of people are really enthusiastic and want to get on board.”