Meet the inspirational Harrogate teenager walking from Leeds to London to raise awareness of mental health

Chloe Bellerby signing for her soccer scholarship.
Chloe Bellerby signing for her soccer scholarship.

Taking on any walking challenge requires a lot of nerve and bucketloads of endurance, but 17-year-old Chloe Bellerby from Harrogate is pushing herself to the absolute extreme by walking from Leeds to London in just 10 days.

Chloe was diagnosed with depression last year, and is determined to help others who are going through the same thing by raising £10,000 for mental health charity Mind.

This inspirational Rossett School student hopes to attract as much support as possible from across the country when she sets off on her walk on April 2. Chloe has also launched a JustGiving page to help reach her target, which has already clocked up an impressive £662 for Mind. She plans to do the 195-mile walk with her dad and her friend Chloe.

Sharing her own experiences of depression will not only help to raise vital funds and awareness - Chloe's openness will also give an important strength to others to talk more openly about mental health.

Chloe said: "I think the support out there for mental health is getting better, but people can still think that it's not real if they can't see it. Last year was probably my lowest point, I struggled.

"The diagnosis of depression has made my day-to-day life a genuine struggle. It’s exhausting, mentally and physically tiring, and sometimes even getting through the day is a challenge in itself.

"Mental illness takes over your life and turns you into a person that doesn’t want to socialise, doesn’t want to speak to anyone, knows no other way of dealing with things than harming yourself, and it changes your mindset in such a way that you feel there is no other option than to end your own life.

"The effects of mental illness are devastating as I have learnt. But with the amazing support of my family, my friends and the one-on-one support from specific staff from my school, I am finally finding a way to deal with my illness at the same time as living my life, rather than just existing."

The challenge ahead may be daunting, but Chloe is fuelled by the thought of helping others.

She said: "Completing it will be the biggest challenge, I hate walking, and it's a lot of miles every day. But the donations and the thought of raising awareness will keep me going. It would be cool if more people got involved. The walk has already helped me, I don't have as many down days, it gives my mind something to focus on."

Studying for her A-levels as an upper sixth form student, Chloe is organising this extraordinary fundraiser while working extremely hard at school.

Next year Chloe will travel to New Jersey to take up a soccer scholarship, recognising her huge talents and abilities on the pitch. All of the training and preparations for the scholarship will stand her in good stead as she gets ready for her walk, which will be the ultimate test of endurance.

Rossett School PE teacher Ricky O' Sullivan said: "I think it's absolutely unbelievable what Chloe is doing - it will help to tackle the stigma around mental health, and sharing her story will help others."

To donate to Chloe's JustGiving page, go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chloe-bellerby