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If there was one word to sum up how it felt to complete Boot the Blues 2017, it would be this one... PROUD. Other words that spring to mind are elated, relieved, contented, and buzzing. Boot the Blues was a labour of love and passion for me as the main organiser, and the event was a long time in the planning stages before it was ready to become a charity fundraising reality.

Being completely new to event organising and fundraising volunteering for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, I didn’t really fully know what to expect, and truthfully questioned myself at times, pondering exactly what I’d taken on and whether or not I’d achieve it. But every challenge, obstacle, or change of plan while organising this event was well worth it. Why? Because of the thrill of meeting the new hikers at the beginning of each day; because of the smile that would form on my face every time a kind stranger approached our group and thoughtfully added coins and notes in the donation pots we carried, because of the adrenaline/euphoria/endorphin cocktail that exploded in my brain every time we climbed up and reached the top of a hill and were rewarded with those stunning views, because of the laughs we had; the way we supported and encouraged each other throughout, and because of the warm glow I had, and still have, reflecting on everything team Boot the Blues has achieved!

Hiking, or any kind of physical exercise, is very much a mind/body thing. The physical act of moving our bodies wakes our brains up, stimulating the happy hormones in our brains. I found that when walking, I felt near to tears a lot of the time, but it definitely wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it. Quite the opposite. I LOVED it! But I believe the hike was so beneficial for me and my mental health in giving me the time and space to process difficult feelings I was harbouring at that time. The physical activity of the hike seemed to free up my emotions, allowing me the space to rejiggle all the mixed up jigsaw pieces of my thoughts, memories and feelings, so life began to make sense again. Not that long before the hike, I suffered a relapse with my own mental health and there was a time where, due to my vulnerability, I wondered if I’d be well enough to take part, but with support, I did it! and I’m so proud that I did it, because I felt so empowered and strong afterwards for having beaten my inner demons. It’s my belief that nothing easy is worth doing, and all the most rewarding things in life require effort. All our efforts definitely paid off financially, and we were fortunate enough to raise 89% of our JustGiving target, which so far stands at £2216.74! All in aid of Alnwick Safe Space group.

Boot the Blues, as the name suggests, was a hike for positive mental health; good for us, and good for the mental health of the people Tyneside and Northumberland Mind is here to support. And that is exactly why we want Boot the Blues to continue in 2018 and beyond. We have already planned in provisional dates for Boot the Blues 2018, so to support Tyneside and Northumberland Mind and apply for your fundraising/hike registration pack please contact me, Imani Summer (Fundraising volunteer & Boot the Blues event organiser) on imanisummer@yahoo.com.

If you would like to donate, our Just Giving page is linked here.

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Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gateshead NE8 4QL. Telephone: 0191 477 4545  Email: admin@tynesidemind.org.uk 
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Registered office: Tyneside Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gatheshead NE8 4QL. Company Number: 7552434. Charity Number: 1140856.