In February 2020,  I joined a team from natural stone and terrazzo client Diespeker to take part in the Malta Marathon, fundraising for  teenage mental health charity, stem4. With the race succesfully completed, I arrived home just before the pandemic created mayhem – we all remember what happened next.

So it was a real joy to return to Malta for a re-run (although if you know me, you’ll understand there wasn’t any running involved. Instead, very fast walking)! We were lucky with the weather, after the wind dropped it was pleasantly warm and the sun decided to come out.

The MD of Diespeker, John Krause was the only one of the team to take part in the full marathon. It was his 198th marathon, with just one more to go before his 200th which will be the London Marathon. In the meantime, I walked the half marathon with Terra Ferma Media boss David Fernando. We waved at John as he jogged past us on his second lap, barely breaking sweat. To keep up going, we listened to some banging disco tunes (sharing earbuds as my headphones had broken) and danced across the finish line to Daddy Cool.

Although of our team I came in last, it was a pretty fast walk. My average is 3 miles an hour and the 13.1 miles took 3 hours 25, taking my pace up to 3.83 miles an hour. I was happy to find out I was 18th in my age group (and there were plenty of people younger than me who finished later). All the dog walking obviously helps my fitness levels.

The best bit? The pint of Cisk (a local lager) afterwards.

It’s sobering to remember that as a consequence of the pandemic, teenage mental health is in need of even more support. In 2022 alone, 18.0% of children aged 7 to 16 years and 22.0% of young people aged 17 to 24 years had a probable mental health disorder. stem4 promotes positive mental health in teenagers and those who support them, including families and carers, education professionals, along with school nurses and GPs through the provision of mental health education, resilience strategies and early intervention.

Provided primarily through digital channels, resources include Head Ed, an innovative education programme, 5 pioneering mental health apps, a clinically-informed website and mental health conferences for young people, education and health professionals that contribute to helping young people and those around them flourish.

The combined team effort of runners and walkers from the charity have so far raised over £2,650. We’re still taking donations, so please follow this link if you would like to support the work of stem4.

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