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Picture of Matt Colley with his bike
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Matt Colley is cycling 5,000 miles to raise money for mental health and wellbeing charities
02/12/2020

Matt Colley is cycling 5,000 miles to help raise money for mental health and wellbeing charities.

His aim is to visit every village in Norfolk and raise £25,000 by the end of the ride. "It's an ambitious target and, a quarter of the way through, I have £1,100. Hopefully it will start to snowball as I get more publicity," he said.

Matt has chosen charities and organisations which do vital work to promote mental health, wellbeing and inclusivity in Norwich and around Norfolk, having suffered from mental health issues himself and being a service user with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Matt explained: "Norfolk and Waveney Mind have been very helpful to me personally; Norwich Soup Movement runs a soup kitchen and food bank in Norwich, which helps to humanise homeless and disadvantaged people in the city; The 12th Man encourages men to talk more openly about their mental health; the CSF uses the power of sport and exercise to help disabled and disadvantaged people; and Norman Lamb's Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund was the organisation that originally prompted me to start cycling and fundraising. I raised nearly £4,000 for them during a separate charity cycle ride in August." 

Matt has been on his own mental health journey over the years. "I was first diagnosed with depression aged 19 in 1999 and, for the last two decades, I have lived with varying degrees of depression and anxiety. I've experienced addiction, suicidal ideations, eating disorders and panic attacks, but as I've got older, I've learned how to better manage my conditions and take better care of myself. Mental illness isn't something you beat; it's something you learn to live with and manage." 

Matt said the challenge has been incredibly tough already, particularly with the onset of winter. "It's really rewarding, though," he said. "I've never got back from a ride and thought 'I wish I'd stayed on the sofa'. I don't mind riding in the rain so much, but the wind can be a real drag, especially when it's in your face. It's a constant battle with 'saddle sores', and my back is often quite achy, but there's no doubt in my mind that I will complete the challenge."

Family and friends have been really supportive with Matt saying his wife had been "an absolute rock". "She has been driving me around the county and sitting in the car reading a book while I go and tick off a load more villages. My parents have also been really supportive, and I have a wide network of friends in Norwich who are never short of words of encouragement! I've also received very generous sponsorship from local companies including Egg Cup Web Design, Wensum Print and Woodforde's."

Matt has been regularly writing a blog about his challenge. Read more at edidit.co.uk/5000colo. You can also contact him with donations at colofivethousand@gmail.com