Chantry men's wellbeing group take up 'new fight' with 300-mile challenge

Wayne Burnett, Corrin Eaton, Glen Barwell

Wayne Burnett, Corrin Eaton, Glen Barwell - Credit: Wayne Burnett

An epic 300-mile cycle trip is on the cards for a men's group from Ipswich, who want to raise money for Suffolk Libraries and promote Mental Health Awareness Week. 

The idea to cycle between all 44 of the county's libraries was born after Corrin Eaton, a founding member of the Men Can Talk social group at Chantry Library, wanted to do something to help the venue that provides a home for the support group. 

He and the team will take on a three-day biking and camping round trip, beginning at Chantry Library on Saturday, May 7 and taking in all of the libraries around Suffolk before coming right back to where they started. 

The challenge coincides with the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week, which begins on May 9. 

Mr Eaton said: "I didn't realise how much libraries do for the community and how important fundraising is. I know from experience now how important they are. 

"We discussed the idea of doing as many miles as we could on an exercise bike and rowing machine in the library.  

"I then had an even crazier idea - we worked out how many miles there were between all the libraries in Suffolk so I thought, why not take on a cycling challenge across Suffolk? 

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"I compete professionally in martial arts but my gym is in London so I'm missing it and needed a new challenge. This is my new fight.  

"It'll be tough but I've got a good team behind me and I'm looking forward to it."

A colourful mural at Chantry Library with 'talk the truth' and 'feel the real' messages

The Men’s Group have also helped to create a colourful new mural at the library featuring Suffolk Libraries’ children’s mascot, Oona the Owl - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

Vicki Mann, Chantry Library manager, said: "It's lovely to see how far the group has grown and how supportive the men have been for each other. The feedback we get is amazing. 

"The group is very diverse and the men are all at different stages in life and at different ages.  

"I was told that one member really looked up to an older gentleman as he was someone he could learn from as a role model.  

"It has also been very insightful to read some comments to how men really feel and how society can have an impact on male wellbeing.  

"This is just one example of the many ways we can help people at just one of our libraries.  

"What we do can have a very positive impact on people's wellbeing and I hope people will support Corrin and his team so Suffolk Libraries can do even more to help people."

Chantry Library manager Vicki Mann is running a series of events this summer.

Chantry Library manager Vicki Mann has brought back cancer meet-ups, baby and mum groups and arts and crafts after Covid - Credit: Archant

Alex Hammond, one of the group members and part of the team supporting Corrin's fundraising challenge, added: "The group has changed my life, it's a place I go every week to try and give back to the community.  

"It's a safe space that is open for all men who might need a helping hand or a place to talk.  

"The group is a place where you can say what you feel without being judged and you can be yourself." 

Suffolk Libraries thanked sponsors Inchcape BMW Ipswich for providing the support vehicle, and to The Hollies in Kessingland and Ling's Meadow in Diss for providing camping pitches. 

You can support Corrin's journey by donating to the fundraising page or by visiting Chantry Library, where you can add miles and donations using the exercises bikes at the library.