A MAN who had to give up a highly successful career because of mental health difficulties is raising money for the charity MIND by walking 300 miles over 14 days.

Gary Campbell, 59, from Woking, was a social worker for more than 20 years, despite battling with bipolar disorder all his life.

His career included the post of assistant director in a London borough social services department, and he has worked for councils around the UK.

About 18 months ago, he had a significant episode but continued working until having to give up his job in February last year.

“As part of my recovery I walk a great deal and find this therapeutic, and it has helped me significantly,” said Gary.

He decided to raise money for the mental health charity MIND and originally planned long journeys to towns and cities where his adult children live. He has so far raised £790 of his £2,500 target, via the JustGiving website.

The pandemic has forced him to change his plans and he has decided to walk 22 miles each day starting on 3 April and ending 14 days later. “I have picked different destinations such as Ascot,” he said.

Gary is in training, covering up to 22 miles each session. “I love walking and it’s been great for my mental health. My legs are getting stronger,” he added.

Gary, who is from Liverpool but has lived in Woking for 17 years, said he has had good support throughout his challenges.

“I have a brilliant wife and family who support me and enabled me to function the best I could by being there and understanding my needs.

“It is important to recognise that some individuals don’t have such good networks and live with significant mental health difficulties which charities such as MIND support.”

Gary said he chose April for the walk because he wants to complete the challenge before his 60th birthday in June.

When the COVID restrictions are eased sufficiently and he is ready to return to work, Gary would like to help local authorities support social workers in the mental health challenges they face in their work.

“I have realised that over the last couple of years the difficult tasks within children’s social care and the organisation difficulties due to cuts in funding had taken a lot out of me given my mental health challenges,” he said.

* TO DONATE to Gary’s fundraising, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Gary-campbell15