On 11th November 2023, approximately 50 Police officers, staff, volunteers and members of other North Wales emergency services with their friends and family, lit up Moel Famau on a blue light walk in memory of officers and staff who have lost their lives due to mental health problems, and to raise awareness of mental health within the blue light services.
The walk was dedicated to PC Ryan Donaldson, who worked as a highly valued member of the Wrexham Rural policing team, had been a North Wales Police officer since 2018 and sadly took his own life in December last year.
Moel Famau is the highest hill in the Clwydian Range and can be challenging at the best of times, but even more so during the hours of darkness. Luckily, everyone taking part in the walk had a blue walking light with them to help lead the way.
Wrexham Rural Support Sergeant Sophie Ho who had been Ryan’s Sergeant and organised the walk said “I was so humbled and proud to see everyone supporting this walk in memory of Ryan and other colleagues that we have lost and to raise awareness of mental health within the blue light services.
I believe that Policing is one of the most stressful roles, only made easier by working alongside officers who are proud to wear their uniform and help others in need without hesitation; just like Ryan was. I hope that an annual walk like this gives colleagues and the family members of those within blue light services something to look forward to. It is a reminder that you’re never alone in the Blue Light Family and if you are struggling with your mental health, there are so many people who care & who will undoubtably help you.
I’d firstly like to thank Ryan’s mother Linda and his sister Cara for supporting, attending at this event and allowing it to take place as part of Ryan’s legacy.
I’d like to say a big thank you to all the staff for their commitment in attending and bringing their families along. To Inspector Matt Subacchi for his help with planning and organising, Mark and Jayne from the Police Federation for their attendance, Deputy Chief Constable Nigel Harrison for his assistance with making hot beverages, and to our Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman for her very long drive from South Wales to make it in time to see everyone come down from the walk.
I’d also like to thank North East Wales Search & Rescue lead by Huw Birrell, Andy McLaren from North Wales Fire & Rescue Service and Chief Inspector Stephen Roberts who was the walking lead which massively helped get everyone up and down safely. In addition, to Clwydian Range & Dee Valley Countryside Ranger Edward Sopp for his assistance in helping to arrange the walk.
Thank you also to John Morris for leading his team of wonderful Police Cadets who assisted with parking directions and despite the cold weather all had smiling faces! And lastly, thank you to Police Sports Association for their donation of the blue lights which we hope to use every year.”
If you're struggling with your mental health or wellbeing, please know that you are not alone and there is help and support available to you. There are a number of support charities such as:
Mind Cymru - Mind is a mental health charity working across England & Wales to change, support and connect minds in the fight for mental health. You can contact them on 0300 123 3393 or find lots of useful information on their website - Mind Cymru - Mind
Stem4 - Stem4 helps teenagers, friends, parents/carers and schools with mental health issues. They’ve got helpful resources if you’re worried about things like anxiety, depression, self-harm, eating disorders and addiction. Visit their website here - stem4 - supporting teenage mental health
MindOut - MindOut is a mental health service run by and for members of the LGBTQ community to help improve the health and wellbeing of everyone. They have an online support live chat, and lots of helpful information on their website - MindOut | Mental Health Charity for LGBTQ community
Scope - Scope is a disability equality charity operating in England & Wales. They provide practical and emotional support when it’s most needed. You can phone their helpline on 0808 800 3333 or visit their website here - Home | Disability charity Scope UK