North-East football coach, Gavin Fell, continues to set challenges, and raise awareness, of mental health

North-East football coach, Gavin Fell, continues to set challenges, and raise awareness, of mental health

As New Year’s Resolutions go, one person is taking it to a whole, other level, and we’re not just talking about going beyond 31 January, although that is a good start.

They do say that the great outdoors, sport and exercise, is good for the body and soul, wellbeing, and one’s mental health. In fact, the benefits of such activity include mood improvements, reduction in stress and anger, improve physical health, and improve both confidence, and self-esteem.

The being of one with nature, and that of the great outdoors, the mental health charity, MIND, says that –

Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems, including stress and depression and that being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects young people during particular seasons or times of the year.

Now, in starting off 2021 how he very much means to go on, esteemed football coach, Gavin Fell, is using exercise to help raise both funds, and awareness, of mental health, and its charities.

A four-time FA Vase winner, first as a coach alongside Ian Chandler’s Whitley Bay with three-in-a-row in 2009 (vs. Glossop North End, 3-2), 2010 (vs. Wroxham, 6-1) and 2011 (vs. Coalville Town, 3-2), before following it up alongside Jason Ainsley’s Spennymoor Town in 2013 (vs. Tunbridge Wells, 2-1), Gavin is currently coach at the hugely successful youth football team, New Hartley Juniors.

However, for all that success, and after the past twelve months that have rocked everyone’s lives, in differing ways, his happiest moment has only happened recently.

I’ve never had a bigger smile on my face than the one I had when I sent that message to the team saying that we were returning, especially as it was to be our first game in some sixteen weeks.

Myself, I’ve been involved in exercise of some form or other since school, through professional football, coaching non-league and now at New Hartley and, even through all that, I’m still out of shape.

I’ve not suffered from depression though, but I’ve also not been happy with myself so, what I’m doing now, I’m making myself happier by doing so.

I knew that, with what’s going on in the world right now, over the past twelve months, it would hit me hard, and I needed to get out there and do something about it.

In setting himself differing challenges each month, from walking, to running, to cycling, sometimes doing so whilst donning a 20kg vest, Gavin has also made it into a family affair, involving his wife of over two decades, Shirene, and their children.

The reason I picked that of the ‘Mental health Foundation’ was that, with my being a father, a husband, it has been tough, for everyone really, this past year.

For me, I’m a people person, I thrive on being around people, and I’ve always been in that kind of environment; but going into the lockdown’s, it’s proven that exercising does help ones mental health, and it also gets the family involved, which is great.

It’s also been satisfying that people have reached out to me and spoken whether that be of myself, or themselves; you don’t realise the problems, the issues, in which people have, you really don’t, and it shows that people are realising as to how deep this all actually goes, and that we are all accountable.

Alongside the support in which Gavin has received, from family, and friends alike, he also has the ongoing support of his employers, Fluidly, a financial tool and service for businesses and accountants, aimed at the removal of the stress that comes with cashflow forecasting and funding, ultimately creating what they call, intelligent cashflow.

The support in which Fluidly affords Gavin, and that by those around him, fuels his motivation to continue in the raising awareness stakes, something he is seen to portray on a daily basis.

To be honest, men are brought up to be all macho and they don’t show their true feelings, cry publicly, even asking for help, so I do think there’s a whole lot more which can be done.

By just asking the question it’s all well and good responding with “I’m fine,” but, what does ‘fine’ actually mean, and there’s lots of different things that can, and will be, happening.

It’s all about one being comfortable when asking for, and taking, support; this isn’t something that’s just been around throughout this pandemic though, the support, it needs to be continuous, more as people will become anxious, they’ll be worried about how they reintegrate themselves within society, so we’ll all need to be aware of that, provide options, and above all, talk to each other.

Having raised over £2,000 already (for the Mental Health Foundation), I’ll certainly be carrying on and, with the weather getting better, I’m looking forward to it.

And that is just what Gavin Fell is doing, he’s carrying on, and continuing to raise both funds for, and awareness of, mental health, a challenge at a time.

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