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Friends of popular Stamford Rugby Club player Max Hunter vow to honour his memory with new fund as part of The Mintridge Foundation

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Friends of a popular sportsman hope to honour his memory by helping others to talk about mental health.

Max Hunter never told anyone he was struggling.

On the outside he was the life and soul of the party but on the inside something was different. On August 24 last year Max took his own life.

Max Hunter. Photo: Darren Dolby
Max Hunter. Photo: Darren Dolby

Close friend Dan Griffin said: “I was with him hours before and you just wouldn’t have known. He was the same old Max.”

The pair met five years ago when he joined Stamford Rugby Club. They became firm friends and even went on holiday together.

Dan said: “He was just a great guy, really charismatic and always had a story to tell.

Alex Wallace and Max Hunter
Alex Wallace and Max Hunter

“He would put the fun into any situation. People respected him and wanted to be around him.”

It was during Max’s funeral that friends from different parts of his life first met.

As the group chatted it became clear they all wanted to do something to keep Max’s memory alive.

His childhood friend Alex Wallace runs The Mintridge Foundation, a charity which provides mentoring programmes for young people through sport.

The idea formed to set up the Max Hunter Fund as part of the charity.

Max Hunter, Dan Griffin and Alison Smith
Max Hunter, Dan Griffin and Alison Smith

Alex said: “Suicide and mental health continue to be incredibly difficult topics to talk about, particularly for young people, and that is why we are determined to change that narrative.

“We have found that it’s not always as simple as ‘opening up’, but what we want to encourage is for everyone to acknowledge their feelings on a regular basis and that is why we have created the Max Hunter Fund within the Mintridge Foundation.

“Max had previously fundraised for us as he saw the benefits mentoring can have on young people.”

Max’s fund will focus on helping people through the sports he loved - rugby, cricket and golf.

Away from his job in agriculture, the 28-year-old would dedicate much of his spare time to sport and walking his dog near his home in Wansford.

Friend Dan said: “In something like rugby you hear the phrase ‘man up’ quite a lot. It’s drilled into us from a young age but we want to change that so people realise it’s normal to express feelings and, if anything, it makes you stronger.

“People are scared to talk about suicide because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but our whole concept is focused on talking about it.

“We want to do this for Max. People remember him for the suicide but we want his legacy to be something different.

Robbie Polson, Max Hunter and Dan Griffins
Robbie Polson, Max Hunter and Dan Griffins

“This is all we have left of him and his family wants something good to come from this.”

The first fundraising event is titled 28-Not-Out and will take place on July 10 and 11.

There will be 28 hours of non-stop activities starting with a “Minute Against Silence” on Facebook Live at 6pm on Friday, July 10.

It will be followed by an online raffle and mental health discussion panel on Zoom featuring SportSpiel presenter Alasdair Hooper and Leicester Tigers player Dan Cole.

On Saturday, July 11, supporters can tackle their own challenges including a 50-mile run by friend Rachael Templeton and a five-mile bike ride by members of Stamford Rugby Club.

Anyone can get involved with their own activity within the 28-hour period to raise money. Suggestions include running, cycling, walking the dog or throwing a rugby ball.

For details visit www.themintridgefoundation.charitycheckout.co.uk or to donate £3 text 28NOTOUT to 70085.

Tickets for the mental health panel cost £2.80 from tinyurl.com/28notoutpanel

l For help and advice about mental health issues and suicide, call the Samaritans free on 116 123.

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