Richard

“I was born and brought up in Edinburgh and I’ve never really moved away, so I’ve got a good bunch of friends. We’re close knit, even in our 40s as if we’re teenagers.

 “In 2018, my friend Ross took his own life.

“Ross was considered to be one of the steadiest out of us all, the least volatile. When we found out that he’d taken his own life it hit us hard because he’d been dealing with stuff internally that we didn’t know about. You keep coming back to ‘if only we knew’.

“Everybody was dealing with the tragedy in their own way. I came to the lads and said, ‘I’d like to run an event’ but I wanted them to all be part of it.

“We decided to put on a Sportsman's Dinner at Tynecastle Stadium to fundraise for SAMH. We set ourselves three targets, to raise money, raise awareness and to set up a wellbeing workshop in the future.

“The support and positivity this generated within the community and beyond has been incredible. We raised over £20,000 for SAMH and we are in the process of working towards achieving our third goal. Fundraising for SAMH helped us focus, create positivity and embrace togetherness. It has been a great way to find the light from such a dark place.

“Before Ross took his own life I was maybe quite naïve about mental health, I didn’t really know it existed. You read about it in a magazine or you hear that a celebrity’s unfortunately taken their own life, Robin Williams being memorable, you know it’s out there but I thought it was never in my social group or life. I never thought to speak about it with my friends.

“I'm much more aware of my mental health now, there’s no doubt about that. The lads are the same, they're certainly not scared now to What’s App each other. We’re all in a group now one of us might say something like, “I'm having a shit day, I'm having a bad day”, we check in with each other now. I don't think we would have done that a year ago.

 “I’ve been into golf all my life. I’ve been a golf pro for 25 years and I’ve been at Barberton Golf Club for three years now. It’s been a major part of my life - it’s a working hobby really. 

“I think golf can be a release too, my friend Scot plays golf now and he never used to. He enjoys walking up the fairway and he sees it as an opportunity to chat.

“The golfers come into the pro shop every day and have a wee grumble about how they’re getting on or if they’re having a bad day. Golf can definitely help people and I’m proud to say that.

“There is no shame in that to say, ‘I'm not feeling okay, I just need somebody to give me a pat on the back or somebody just to listen for 10 minutes.’

“I would hope that the message is getting through and I am optimistic. I really mean it when I say I start to see mental health now everywhere.

“I believe we can all make a difference.”