Suicide prevention: Friends of Worthing man raise £3,000 for Olly’s Future as charity expands its work with medical students

Friends of Worthing man Oliver Hare have raised more than £3,000 for the suicide awareness and prevention charity created in his memory.

A team of ten friends and Oliver’s brother Sam completed the 100k London to Worthing bike ride on Saturday and ended the day with the unveiling of a glass window on Worthing Pier.

Friend Xavier Smales helped Oliver’s mum Ann Feloy to design the window for Olly’s Future, the charity she founded after her 22-year-old son took his own life on February 14, 2017.

Ann said: “The London to Worthing Bike Ride, which was gruelling, has raised more than £3,000. It was delayed due to the trains so they didn’t get back until 9.30pm.

Oliver Hare's friends and brother Sam at the start of the London to Worthing bike ride for the charity Olly's Future

“The glass window depicts Oliver winning the Fllingathon competiton on Worthing beach. He won it two years running. The orange he is throwing turns into a shooting star.”

The ride route included several locations significant to Oliver’s life, starting in London, where he spent time living and studying to achieve a first class degree at UCL, and passing Christ’s Hospital, where Oliver spent seven happy years as a pupil.

All the money raised will pay for UCL students to attend free suicide prevention training.

Olly’s Future developed and ran the Dr SAMS (Suicide Awareness in Medical Students) programme for medical students at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) in 2020/21 with a BMA Giving grant.

Oliver Hare's mum Ann Feloy and friend Xavier Smales with the Olly's Future glass window on Worthing Pier

A new grant of £20,000 has just been announced so the training can be run as part of the curriculum at BSMS and University of Exeter Medical School in 2021/22. Kent and Medway Medical School will also include Dr SAMS in its curriculum, funded by Kent County Council.

Ann said: “We are delighted to receive the BMA Giving grant for the second year running for Dr SAMS. This enables Olly’s Future to equip hundreds more medical students with vital skills to talk about suicide to their friends and colleagues, and later on, use this knowledge and understanding in their careers to help patients.

“With the BMA backing, our powerful and pioneering three-part programme will build on the success of the pilot which was run at BSMS in 2020/21. It gives our small charity, set up in memory of my beloved son Oliver, the credibility and authority we need, to ensure Dr SAMS is run as part of the curriculum going forward.”

Ann said the charity wanted to ensure people learned the skills needed to talk about suicide and not be afraid of it.

“Most people are terrified of talking about suicide. There is a big myth that you can put it in someone’s head and we want to dispel that myth.”

Post-training surveys of students who took part in the Dr SAMS programme showed there had been a 40 per cent increase in their confidence in talking about suicide with at-risk peers, supporting them and sign-posting to further help.

Marina Politis, deputy chairman and welfare lead for the BMA medical students committee, said: “Supporting the wellbeing of medical students is critical, now during the Covid-19 pandemic more than ever.

“I hope that the sessions offered by Olly’s Future will allow students to be more empowered to start conversations surrounding suicide and have the tools to support their peers, as well as decreasing the stigma that unfortunately still exists surrounding suicide.

“This awareness is invaluable, and it is encouraging that these medical schools recognise the value of training like Dr SAMS. I hope that it will be a first step towards increased support and awareness by medical schools and institutions themselves, and a change in culture to address the root causes of medical student suicide.”