​Friends cycle in tribute to Greg

​Friends cycle in tribute to Greg

Scottish Rugby was honoured to host the last leg of a charity cycle in memory of a keen rugby player who took his own life ten years ago.

And in the week of both Youth Mental Health Day and World Suicide Prevention Day, the message is clear:

“Nobody should ever feel there is no way out and everyone should have someone to turn to in their time of need.”

The 400 miles plus cycle from John O’ Groats to BT Murrayfield was completed in four days last week by seven cyclists who were all friends of former Buckie High School head boy, Greg Smith.

They are raising money for Brothers in Arms, a Scottish charity which supports men’s mental wellbeing.

Greg, who played rugby at the Moray and Murrayfield Wanderers clubs – joining the latter when he was a student at university in Edinburgh – committed suicide in 2011.

His lifelong friend, Ian Johnston, explained: “It has been ten years since Greg passed but his loss is always felt within our friendship group.

“Greg was a special person in many ways but as a leader on and off the rugby pitch, he was always a keen participant in group events and the fittest of the bunch.

“As such, we felt that he would very much approve of a group of us shaking off the cobwebs and stepping firmly outwith our comfort zone to take on this 400-miles cycle challenge.

“I'm not sure if there is a category of cyclist below 'novice' but if there were, we'd certainly fit into it!”

Ian was joined by Jamie Ritchie, Calum Smith, Donald McKay, Stuart Campbell, Kristopher Shearer and Alexander Innes at various points on the journey south, with Callum Ritchie acting as support driver.

Work commitments meant five cyclists crossed the finish line at BT Murrayfield, where friends and family were there to cheer them on for a lap of the international pitch.

From left: Ian, Jamie, Kristopher, Calum and Stuart in the stadium bowl.

Day one had taken the cyclists from John O’Groats to Dornoch.Thereafter it was Dornoch to Grantown on Spey; Grantown on Spey to Pitlochry; and Pitlochry to BT Murrayfield.

“The whole four days it was important to realise what we were doing the cycle for and that got us through some times when the weather was not overly great and it kept us going,” Ian noted.

The cyclists had set a target of £2,000 but by this morning they had smashed that, reaching some £9,007

You can add your support via the team’s Just Giving page.

He added: “Brothers in Arms struck a chord with us. Nobody should ever feel there is no way out and everyone should have someone to turn to in their time of need. We feel passionately about this cause and really hope you'll support us, and Brothers in Arms, by donating anything you can spare.”

Two years ago, Scottish Rugby launched a partnership with Breathing Space, where confidential help is available to anyone feeling low or distressed.

A number of clubs and their members have made use of the Breathing Space phone line: 0800 838587.

Scottish Rugby has also launched an online e-learning module as part of our commitment to mental wellbeing, which underlines how you can be there to support friends, team-mates or colleagues: Mental Wellbeing E-Learning Module.

Youth Mental Health Day is today, Tuesday 7 September and Friday (10 September) is World Suicide Prevention Day.

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