3 Dads Walking Meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak To Discuss Mental Health

Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, and mental health champions the 3 Dads Walking met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss embedding safe age-appropriate suicide awareness and mental first aid in educational settings.

PM Rishi Sunak welcomed Dr Hudson and the 3 Dads, Andy Airey, Tim Owen and Mike Palmer who have been campaigning in memory of their daughters Emily, Beth and Sophie, into the Rose Garden of 10 Downing Street.

Welcoming the 3 Dads to Downing Street, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, said: “When Neil talked about you in Prime Minister’s Question Time and I learned a little bit more about all your stories it was so moving. And I have two young girls, so it particularly just struck a chord with me.

“To have suffered the tragic losses that all of you have had, but then to channel that into raising awareness so that people know that there’s somewhere that they can go and talk to; it’s inspiring and you deserve enormous praise for that.”

There he heard from the Dads about their emotional journey and threw his weight behind the campaign.

Dr Neil Hudson MP, Rishi Sunak PM, 3 Dads Walking (left to right)

The 3 Dads are a nationally renowned group of suicide-bereaved fathers who came together to turn the tragedies of the loss of their daughters to suicide into a message of hope, having raised more than £1 million for suicide prevention charities by walking over 300 miles between the four UK parliaments.

Andy Airey, Penrith and The Border resident and father of Sophie, added: “We didn’t choose to come down this road because of what our girls did, but it’s good to know we are being heard.”

Mike Palmer, father of Beth, said: “We had a great conversation there, didn’t we? We covered a lot of things, and the Prime Minister is a father himself, he wants his kids to be safe.”

Tim Owen, father of Emily, said: “Em told me what she wanted to do in her last note to us. She said if other people can learn from what happened to me then let it happen, so we are trying to change society for the better. So, I know exactly what Em would say ‘you’re doing a good thing dad’.”

Dr Hudson joined the trio on the Penrith leg of their mammoth trek and has campaigned passionately alongside them. He tabled a successful parliamentary motion, garnering the support of MPs from all major parties; secured the meeting with Rishi Sunak by raising the 3 Dads’ plight in the Commons; and spoke at length during an emotional parliamentary debate on suicide prevention triggered by the 3 Dads’ hugely popular petition.  

Dr Hudson and the 3 Dads were proud to have been able to raise such an important issue at the highest level of government and pleased with the positive, caring and proactive response they received.   

To keep momentum rolling and change the statutory guidance on RSE curricula, the 3 Dads and Dr Hudson will meet Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, next month.

According to the UK’s leading young suicide prevention charity, PAPYRUS, suicide is the biggest killer of under-35s with more than 200 teenagers losing their lives to suicide every year.

By making safe and age-appropriate suicide awareness a mandatory element of school curricula, campaigners believe it can break the stigma around mental health issues, making it easier to seek help for those in need.

Dr Neil Hudson, said: “It has been one of the greatest privileges of my parliamentary career to facilitate this meeting between the 3 Dads and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

“I am in awe of the 3 Dads’ ability to turn such harrowing personal tragedies into a message of hope. Their strength, dedication and indomitable spirit has rightly led to such a critical issue being discussed at the highest level of Government.

“With suicide remaining the leading cause of death among under-35s, the way forward seems clear to me, and I thank the Prime Minister for engaging with us in such an open and proactive manner.

“The 3 Dads are affecting real change and I’m confident progress is being made to make our young folk safer from the tragedy of suicide.”

Dr Neil Hudson MP, Rishi Sunak PM, 3 Dads Walking (left to right)

Dr Hudson added: “I’m really humbled the more I work with these guys, just seeing them using their own personal tragedy and pivoting that to try and help other people.

“Everyone knows young people who are struggling, and I firmly believe – you know we had the Secretary of Education here as well – so I think you’ve got cross-party MPs agreeing on this, you’ve got the top of Government listening.

“The time is right for change.”

Having campaigned tirelessly to improve mental health since raising the need for parity of esteem between physical and mental health in his maiden speech, Dr Hudson has since triggered an Official Parliamentary Inquiry into Rural Mental Health.

Working in academia prior to entering Parliament, Dr Hudson was trained in mental first aid. Having witnessed the benefit of this first-hand, Dr Hudson is also pushing for more staff to receive similar training in educational settings.

If you have been affected by the themes of this release, you can contact PAPYRUS’s HOPELINEUK from 9am-Midnight, via:

  • Phone: 0800 068 4141
  • Text: 07860 039967 
  • Email: pat@papyrus-uk.org

The Samaritans are also contactable via: