Young Laois soldier raises thousands for Movember on epic walk home highlighting mental health in the process

Corporal Johnathan Tuft walks 55km in one day to his home in Abbeyleix to raise funds and put the spotlight on men's health

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

An Irish soldier from Laois has helped play a big part in raising thousands of Euro for Movember while also bravely shining a light on the importance of mental health especially among young men like himself who have lost their lives to suicide.

Corporal Jonathan Tuft from Abbeyleix has completed extraordinary to raise funds under the Frontline Mo-Bros group of emergency and security services worker who joined forces to fundraise for Movember.

Having had to delay due to Covid-19 restrictions, on December 6 he set off from the Curragh camp with the aim of walking 55km’s with 55 pounds (24kg) in his backpack starting from the Curragh camp and finishing in his home time of Abbeyleix. He did, he says it in memory of all the dads, brothers, sons and soldiers who have sadly passed and for men's mental health!

He was among more than 100 people who signed on to the Frontline Mo-Bros Movemeber fundraising campaign. More below picture.

"Even though I grow an awful moustache this will be my third year taking part in Movember having raised €1,676 over the last two years," he said on his Facebook appeal page.

"COVID is affecting everyone’s mental health and even though it was good to see an increase in mental health services in the budget it’s still important to help in any little way we can...Men are dying far too young and before their time, let’s try to make a difference here," he said in his appeal. 

Speaking in advance on social media he explained that he has lost friends to suicide. Two of these friends went to Heywood College in Ballinakill at the same time he attended the Laois secondary school. More below picture.

"So some of you may be wondering why it is I’m putting myself through all this hardship and carrying the equivalent of a male bulldog, a small bag of coal or €1,000 in 20c coins. In recent years two school friends and a fellow soldier from my own unit made the tragic decision to take their own lives," he said.

"I’m only going to suffer a few hours of pain and suffering compared to some brave men who wake up in pain and fall asleep in pain. There is an answer out there and there is help. Our own minds can be our worst enemies and when you open up to people about how you’re feeling and how you’re thinking they can make things less blurry and show you that things aren’t the way they seem.

"The world is a fantastic place full of fantastic people and fantastic places and I can’t wait to visit and meet more of them! There is light at the end of the tunnel and everybody can get better. I’m not doing this walk for me I’m doing it for every man and woman suffering in silence. I’ve never been good at opening up so I hope people can understand what I’m trying to say, thank you," said the brave soldier. More below picture.

The young Abbeyleix man set off for the Mechanised Infantry Company HQ in the Curragh at at 3 am on December 6. His route took him through Kildare town, Monasterevin, Ballybrittas, Emo, The Heath, Portlaoise, Ballyroan finishing at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel 55kms and around 12 hours later at about 4 pm.

"Home sweet home," was the message he posted when he arrived back home in Abbeyleix after 55km
and 12 hours 50 minutes on his feet. more below picture.

By December 10, with four days left on his fundraising appeal, Jonathan's efforts were enough to see a phenomenal  
€7,120 raised of €5,500 goal he set on his Facebook donate page.

Jonathan's efforts helped to double the money raised by the Frontline Mo-Bros this November compared to 2019. By December 10 the total had exceeded €64,000 with funds still coming in.

The aim of the Frontline Mo-Bros is to bring all members of the frontline, voluntary and security services together and help in the fight against men's cancers and to bring support and awareness of men's mental health. The group won the 2016 International Team of Movember award.

Movember takes place every year to highlight men's health in particular mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Fundraising takes place to help reduce the number of men who die prematurely from these issues.