‘Even in the darkest times, there is hope’: top riders carry Baton of Hope to support suicide prevention

  • Top British riders and representatives of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment have thrown their weight behind the “biggest suicide awareness and prevention initiative the UK has ever seen”.

    Oliver Townend, Mollie Summerland and Lewis Carrier, along with British Equestrian (BEF) eventing performance manager Dickie Waygood, joined mounted soldiers to carry the Baton of Hope on its last leg.

    The unique baton has travelled the UK since 25 June as a “unifying symbol” aimed at reducing any stigma related to mental health issues, encourage conversation and “help people get better at asking questions”. Yesterday (6 July), it arrived in London, and the riders formed a guard of honour along Constitution Hill, The Mall and Horse Guards Parade.

    Riders Minds partnered with the Baton of Hope; the equestrian mental health charity’s founder Victoria Wright said it was something “we knew we had to get involved with”.

    “The mission of the baton is to bring about change in how we approach the subject of suicide, how we talk about it and how we support those affected by it,” she said.

    “It is an honour to have a mounted section of the tour, in which the baton was carried on horseback from Hyde Park into Horse Guards Parade thanks to help of Richard Waygood. This is an important moment for the equestrian industry and we’re proud that Riders Minds and British Equestrian are able to work together to deliver a very important message.”

    Oliver, who rode with his Tokyo Olympic team gold medal on, said it was a “huge privilege to be part of this important occasion”. Mollie, who has shared her own mental health journey openly on social media to help others, added: “It’s really important we’re here today, and to be able to talk about a topic that needs to be raised, have more awareness of and be spoken about more. To be able to ride through the streets of London and play a small part in helping suicide prevention – I hope it shows that even in the darkest times, there is hope and they are not alone.”

    The baton, and the message it represents, was delivered to the Houses of Parliament that evening.

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