A Northampton GP hopes to raise awareness of mental health by cycling through 23 counties from Lands End to John O’Groats.
David Smart, 57, GP partner at Leicester Terrace Health Care Centre, in Adelaide Street off Barrack Road, is passionate about promoting countywide mental health initiatives.
The nine-day Deloitte Ride Across Britain event, which starts today (September 7), is David's biggest challenge ever and he said he is determined for it to be more than just a fundraiser.
David, who is cycling alongside three NHS colleagues, said: “As a GP I am very aware of the health service being much more than just illness management, and I believe very strongly that mindfulness, well-being, happiness and nutrition, the way we live our lives and personal choice, all play a big part in our overall health.
“This bike ride is such a fitting challenge for me as exercise is proven to positively affect mental health, but it is also a big enough feat for it to get people listening. I’ll be promoting the mental health organisations that I am privileged to work with as part of my role with MHNC, and also the various projects I am involved in such as the Well-being Education Network, Action for Happiness, and Integrated Depression Pathway.
"I am so passionate about this subject because choosing how I think and behave has helped me manage my own moods and something I encourage for those around me and my patients."
The doctor has been training hard for the Ride Across Britain, which will span 968 miles, 23 counties and three countries.
He is helping to drive many leading well-being and happiness projects in partnership with the Mental Health Northants Collaborative (MHNC) - a body made up of 12 mental health charities and organisations including Teamwork Trust, Daylight Centre, Northampton & District Mind, Relate and many others.
“You can never do enough training but I think I am in a good place with my fitness,” he said.
“It is probably the most daunting thing I have ever done though and will make other challenges, like the two-day 180 mile cycle ride I completed last year and my trek up Kilimanjaro, seem comparatively easy.
I will be camping each night and stopping at food and drinks stations along the way but the thought of the sheer distance is scary.
"That’s what makes me want to do it though – face my fears, take myself to the edge of what I think I am capable of and show people that the mind can enable you to do incredible things.”
David will ride alongside two GP colleagues, Dr Karim Khan and Dr Nas Choudhury, and nurse consultant and mental health trainer, Dr Mike Scanlan. To donate click here.