A dedicated volunteer for Coventry and Warwickshire’s leading mental health charity is set to walk out on a fundraising mission after losing an astonishing 12 stone in just 12 months.

Dee Hodgson, a 49-year-old public speaker for the city-based Coventry and Warwickshire Mind, is preparing to put her best foot forward this weekend (Saturday, May 6th) to raise funds for the mental health charity which helped her get back on her feet.

Dee, who lives in Willenhall, Coventry, turned to Coventry and Warwickshire Mind for help 11 years ago after making numerous attempts to take her own life and being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. She now speaks publically about her experiences for the charity to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Dee will be among a host of fundraisers taking part in the Walking out of Darkness event in Birmingham on Saturday (May 6) to raise awareness of mental health problems and suicide prevention. The 10-mile event ends in time for the start of Mental Health Awareness Week on May 8th and funds raised will help support the work of the campaign It Takes Balls to Talk, a public awareness campaign which the charity delivers in partnership with Coventry & Warwickshire Partnership Trust and other local organisations, having been created to encourage people, particularly men, to talk about how they feel.

The walk is a challenge the mum-of-four, who also has four grandchildren, could not have dreamed of when she weighed 26 stone in January 2016 after decades of binge eating, but she was down to 14 stone in January this year.

“I could barely walk 100 meters from the house to my car and had to use a stick or walking frame,” said Dee. “My eldest son later told me he didn’t think I’d have five years of life left in me and that he’d think my grandchildren would grow up without me. Now my blood sugars and blood pressure are in normal parameters.”

Dee shed nearly half her body weight in the space of a year. She used to be a size 32 but can comfortably wear a size 16 through regular sessions at the gym, a personal trainer, and a healthy eating regime.

She said: “I had to get my head right before I could sort my weight but when I made my disclosure about the abuse I suffered in childhood it was the catalyst. I felt I had no value before and had low self-esteem but I felt supported and accepted for who I was by the staff, then decided I didn’t want to be like this anymore.

“I still have my ups and downs, but my mental health has never been better than it is now,” she added. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and opportunities provided by Coventry and Warwickshire Mind. I feel a whole new world of possibilities has opened up for me.”

Officials at the charity’s Spon End headquarters say Dee is an example of the amazing things that can be achieved by people who need their support. Coventry and Warwickshire Mind’s deputy chief executive, Steven Hill, who is also doing the walk, said:  “Last year we celebrated 50 years supporting people across Coventry and Warwickshire with mental health problems and wouldn’t be where we are today without our volunteers, many like Dee who have experience of mental health problems, who work hard to raise awareness and shatter the stigma around mental health.

“Dee is proof that, with the right support, anyone with mental health problems can achieve their goals and we wish her the best of luck as she sets out to raise money for Coventry and Warwickshire Mind. Every penny raised by Dee and her fellow fundraisers will help others on their road to recovery.”

To sponsor Dee on her Walk out of Darkness, click on this link.

Further information about Coventry and Warwickshire Mind is available at www.cwmind.org.uk and It Takes Balls to Talk at www.ittakesballstotalk.com