A Burnham-On-Sea mental health charity has formally opened its new premises in the town this week.
In Charley’s Memory – which was set up following the death of Burnham teenager Charley Marks in 2014 – has been launched at the Manor House in Burnham’s Manor Gardens.
An official opening was held on Tuesday by Ben McGrail of BBC Somerset, who cut a ribbon with former MP Tessa Munt to open the premises, which is a base for training courses and support.
The launch comes after a huge fundraising campaign over the past 18 months to enable the opening, with grants being given by Burnham and Highbridge Town Council and Sedgemoor District Council.
Jo Clements, Charley’s mother, gave an emotional speech at this week’s opening, saying she was delighted that the premises is now open.
“Losing Charley was the worst thing that could happen to me and my family, and life has changed for us all,” she said.
“I want to refer back to the time when I was sat on the sofa, three weeks after Charley became an angel, deciding what I wanted to do. Back then I never dreamed that In Charley’s Memory would grow to what it is now, I never thought that we would have obtained a Charity status. But on March 10th Charley’s angel-versary was when I received an email to confirm our Charity number.”
Two people have been employed by the charity to oversee the day-to-day running of the new facilities and services.
“We work with local schools and colleges, offering counselling and support to young adults and their families, and we have volunteers that give their time when they can.”
“We are in the process of finishing off a lesson plan which we intend to take into schools, colleges and universities. Our aim is to teach young people about mental health, not just the facts, but different coping techniques, informing them of the support that is out there, offering them a listening ear if they need to talk and of course tell Charley’s story.”
“In the 17 months since the invisible illness took Charley, I have met so many like him, suffering in silence without the correct support that they deserve.”
“In Charley’s Memory is not like other charities for mental health, we aim to support both young adults and their families. During this time we have held a fundraising ball on Weston Pier, walked two carnivals rattling our tins, held pamper evenings, manned the checkouts in local supermarkets and held live music events and I was invited to meet the then health minister Norman Lamb.”
“Here at In charley’s Memory offices we are already running courses on mental health first aid and looking after yourself. This is just the beginning of what we hope to offer.”
She thanked all those who have helped to support the charity over the past year.
“Without the community’s support and generosity I don’t know how far we would be today. I wish to thank family, friends and volunteers who have supported not only myself, Harry and Daisy-Mae in the last 17 months but also In Charley’s Memory. I hope that what we have achieved in the past 17 months can show you that, you can turn something so heart-breaking into something so positive.”
“Charley’s story has reached every corner of the globe, we have had amazing support in Blackpool with Charley’s favourite drum and base style music, a ball was held in Bolton, people have run half marathons in Scotland, Rhys Wood has walked one end of the country to the other.”
“Every night on Facebook we are contacted from someone who is not local to Burnham, someone who like Charley is struggling, a mum or dad concerned for their son or daughter. Even someone from Australia messaged to offer their support.”
“We have had celebrities that have taken five minutes out of their schedule to message us their support. Professor Green, Charley would have loved this, Jack Jones, Kim Marsh, and not least David Coulthard and Jenson Button and his F1 team mates holding Charley bear when he went on his travels.”
“In the future we have so much planned. With the MangledWurzels, we have a family afternoon planned that will lead into a party in the evening, this will be around Charley’s 2nd year angel-versary.”
“Every single minute of my life, Charley is in my thoughts, I cannot begin to tell you how much I miss him, life has changed for me, but in starting In Charley’s Memory I hope I have provided a legacy that Charley will be proud of.”
“In the future I hope to be standing in the gardens of Charley’s haven, a place that is safe for young adults a place where they will get the counselling, therapy and support that they and their families need.”