David and friends drive to take on Britain's biggest killer of young men
DAVID Champion's 2,000-mile rally across Europe is more than just a joyride with his mates.
The Yate dad-of-two is also driving to help raise awareness of a charity aiming to tackle the biggest killer of men aged under 45 – suicide.
David, 40, and friends Jaimie Shore and Viv Potter are taking part in a five-day rally across Europe, raising money as they go.
They are taking part in memory of Jamie's dad, Pete, who took his own life when they were teenagers.
David said: "Jaimie and I both turned 40 in the last six months and as long-time childhood friends we wanted to do something to mark the occasion."
But rather than just having an adventure the friends wanted to do something meaningful.
David had been moved by the story of Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas, whose brother had taken his own life, and said the similarities with Jaimie’s dad, who had lived in extreme pain with undiagnosed lung cancer for two years, were striking.
He said: "Both needed help they didn’t get."
Pete had been driven to despair at being unable to get a diagnosis for the source of his pain and, living on his own at the time, had no support or guidance as he became increasingly desperate.
David, below, and Jaimie decided to raise money for the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), which runs a support helpline and webchat facility for men in crisis and aims to prevent male suicide.They believe that, had CALM been around when Pete was in crisis, it could have made a difference.
According to the Office of National Statistics, every day an average of 12 men take their own lives in the UK.
CALM has done its own research which shows that men are less likely to access support because they don’t feel comfortable doing so, so it has created its services just for men. It also creates supportive spaces in workplaces, clubs and prisons.
David and Jaimie decided that whatever they did had to involve a car, because Pete was a huge car enthusiast.
So they signed up for the Pompeii or Bust Banger Rally Challenge, which was set to see them travel 2,000 miles to Italy, arriving on October 3.
The event has raised almost £1 million for charity over the past seven years and the entry criteria are driving car that cost less then £500 and thinking of a theme.
David and his friends will be recreating the racing comedy Talladega Nights. They’ll be dressing up as Ricky Bobby, Cal Naughton Jr and Jean Girard, and David has acquired replica suits for them to wear.
The car, above, a 1991 Volvo 1.6 S40, cost them £450 and has been decorated like a NASCAR racer, in the spirit of the movie, by business Wrapped Up Cars in Kingswood, which is also sponsoring them.
David said: “Jaimie’s Dad was a self-proclaimed petrolhead who owned and tinkered with many cars over the years, so the fit with the event and the charity seemed perfect.”
“We are covering all of the costs of the rally and all associated costs, such as the fancy dress. This means every penny raised as part of our campaign will go directly to the charity and not towards funding our trip.”
You can support the team by donating at David's fundraising page on Justgiving.com.
For more information on CALM visit its website at thecalmzone.net.