We would like to thank army veteran Derek Weeks for sharing his personal story of recovery. He has publicly thanked staff on Coombehaven at The Cedars in Exeter for saving his life and is now aiming to raise £1,000 for the ward by walking 188 miles along Offa's Dyke.
Derek says: "Two years ago a very good friend of mine was killed outside a pub and his sudden death hit me harder than I could have imagined. Since then I’ve had more close friends pass away and have not been able to grieve or talk to anyone about it all. I’ve also had problems at work and at home and it all got too much that I felt that the only way out was to take my life.
"I made three attempts. I was then found by the police and taken to The Cedars at a point when I felt at my lowest.
"The Cedars has helped me understand my illness, they listened to how I felt and showed me they really do care. People now know that I’m neither stupid nor insane and while things are not completely perfect since I was discharged they taught me ways to cope, which enable me to live my life.
"I’ve decided to take on the Offa’s Dyke Walk, which is 177 miles following the English/Welsh border. It is a beautiful yet challenging walk, which will give me chance to think about what to do and where to go from here.
"I’ve chosen to raise money for The Cedars in conjunction with this walk because the staff there mean so much to me and will always be an significant part of my life going forward. Doing this walk is a very important step for my recovery; to demonstrate how far I’ve come and provide a massive sense of achievement.
"The Cedars has given me my back life, I have a lot to look forward to and I want to show recognition to the dedicated staff on the ward. The services they provide to the community are vital and should be available to anyone like me, where life has just got too much."
In an article in the South Hams Gazette, Derek adds: “I still have a long way to go before my head is back to its normal self, but it is in a better place than it was due to the friends I have, the staff at Coombehaven, The Cedars, and because of the time I had away walking, giving me time to think about life. I owe a lot to these people. If it wasn’t for Coombehaven Ward, I can honestly say I don’t think I would be alive today. I didn’t see anything getting better and the only way to make the bad things stop was to end my life. I can honestly say that the staff there are the best team of people I have ever been involved with and they do an amazing job dealing with everything they have to deal with daily, they are true heroes.”
Derek would be hugely grateful for all donations, which can be made through his JustGiving page. Click here to find out more about how you too could fundraise for our Chaity to help give people the best quality care.