dan simms by a lake
Dan Simms Credit: Leonie Roberts Photography

A Gwent man has completed a walk from Caldicot to Amsterdam to raise awareness of men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

Dan Simms, 24, set himself the challenge after he lost two of his friends to suicide.

He set off from Caldicot Castle on Saturday 24 February and 15 days, 421 donations, £6245, 442km and 633,771 steps later he arrived at the ‘I AmSterdam’ sign at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport – the finish point of his long walk for men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

He said: “The journey was incredible, it definitely pushed me to places my mind hasn’t been to before. The support I’ve had from everyone was what made this possible in this time frame.

“You’d think the last day of this crazy journey would have been an easy walk, but it really wasn’t. I was exhausted, but the fact that I knew I was finishing felt very good.”

Throughout the walk, Dan received support on social media from total strangers who were touched by his mission.

Comments like: “As a man really suffering with my mental health at the moment, I personally thank you. Seeing that there are still good people on earth gives me hope.”

Dan also heard heartbreaking stories from people who had lost family members and friends: “I saw your story and have been following your updates. I lost my brother to suicide last May. What you are doing is an incredible thing. You have made a difference, that’s for sure.”

Dan said: “Hearing people’s stories about how their husbands, wives, sons and daughters had taken their own lives, and that I was bringing light to their life by doing this walk, was incredible to hear, and definitely helped me through the most difficult days.

“A big challenge was getting injured on day one. I had to stay positive about the two weeks ahead of me, whilst limping every single step.

“I’ve suffered and pushed myself hard many times but this was next level. Aches and pains everywhere, blisters, sleeping in different places every night with broken sleep, not having a proper diet, the loneliness, the boredom.

“I saw a lot of lovely places on the walk, and I also walked along some dangerous roads and in frosty temperatures.

“Getting to each location every night was exciting. I received support from so many people, including hotels – I honestly couldn’t have asked for more. I’m truly thankful to every single one of you.

“This has been the most incredible experience of my life, and one that I’ll never forget… especially as I’ve now got it tattooed on my right arm.”

Well over 400 donations and more than £6000 later, having walked 442km and taken 633,771 steps, Dan Simms’ solo walk is complete.

As well as financial support for Tom and Rory’s families, Dan’s been raising funds for the men’s suicide prevention charity Andy’s Man Club.

“It was all about using the memories of Tom and Rory, and the heartbreaking stories I heard, as a driving force, because pain can be a big teacher, and a big motivator, if you use it correctly. You can use it like a switch, to push for whatever you want to achieve in life. You’ve been through challenges before: you can get through them again.

“Stay strong – you’re here for a reason. Always seek help if you need it – there’s no weakness in seeking help.”

Sponsor Dan

There’s still time to donate on Dan’s GoFundMe page here.