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Running to help prevent suicide in the young

The Thomas Crosbie PACE Foundation are hoping that The Big Half, taking place for the first time this year on Sunday 4 March, will not only raise money for the Foundation but also awareness around the prevention of suicide among young people

The Foundation was created in memory of 31-year old Thomas Crosbie, who took his own life in September 2016. A vibrant young man with a passion for music and sport, Thomas’s death was unexpected and a huge shock to his friends and family, many of them unable to understand how they couldn’t have known he was suffering and contemplating taking his own life.

David Grounds, Chairman of The Thomas Crosbie PACE Foundation, explains:  “Thomas’s death stunned everyone he knew. They couldn’t believe it with many saying ‘we had no idea’. A lot of young people who take their own lives are the life and soul, so how can the people around them have any idea?”

In the grief and devastation that followed his death, those closest to Thomas decided to honour his vision of forming a creative hub that would be a place of inspiration and promote young people’s wellbeing through the arts and sport.

A close family friend of Thomas, Grounds, whose sons played football with the budding poet and grime artist, felt that helping to set up the Foundation was the only thing he could do in the circumstances and is hopeful the work they are already doing in the local community will help prevent future deaths.

“We’re just starting out as a Foundation and hoping to secure our charitable status so The Big Half is a great opportunity for us to showcase what we’re doing and get our message heard,” he says.  

“At the moment we’re working in Tower Hamlets to try and build relationships with local schools to create projects for the pupils which will impress on them their self-worth. We have good connections with local poets, rap artists, DJs and sports people who we can bring together to help mentor these young people.”

Grounds and his team aim to provide a safe environment in which young people can flourish rather than feel they have nowhere to turn.  

“Research has shown these young people are often the life and soul of the party but many have deep-rooted issues from being bullied at a young age,” he says. “We want to understand that psyche and help these boys and girls understand, and deal with, any issues they may have.”

The Foundation will work with partners including professional counsellors to provide support and to encourage young people in the local area to try new activities, such as workshops in spoken word and rap, graffiti art courses or sports activities, all aimed at improving their mental and physical wellbeing.

A new festival, The Coldfire Festival, in Victoria Park is being planned to promote wellbeing and give young artists an outlet to perform and share their talents, and Grounds is looking forward to the exposure The Big Half can provide them, with 25 of Thomas’s friends and family running the race for the Foundation.

He says: “The moment I heard about The Big Half I was straight on the phone to try and secure places. We’re a new group and this is the perfect way for us to establish ourselves in our local community.

“It’s going to be a great event and many of Thomas’s friends and family will be there on the day, either running or cheering the runners on. It will be a special day.”

For more information about the Thomas Crosbie PACE Foundation visit www.pacecoldfire.com.