A former Stamford School pupil has run, and indeed won, the Silverstone half-marathon in memory of his childhood friend.
When Mike Aldridge crossed the finish line on Sunday, it was in tribute to his classmate Graeme Mutton, who sadly took his own life in November.
Uniting at his funeral, Graeme’s school friends started to look into ways in which they could honour their friend’s memory, and after noting that mental health charity Mind was one of the Silverstone race’s main causes, Mike signed up.
“There is no better feeling than when you cross the finishing line, but this time it was about so much more,” said Mike.
At 42 he is believed to be the oldest winner in the race’s history, and although he has grown up running and competing for Britain, it is the first time he has conquered this course. He did so in an impressive 1 hour 13 minutes and six seconds, and among those who cheered him on were his parents and fiancée Louise.
His amazing achievement has also been heralded by fellow Stamford School alumnus and friend, Charlie Simmonds, who said: “Mike is a quiet but very determined guy, and he would never think to tell his story, but his victory has stunned and inspired all of us.”
Along with fellow old Stamfordians, including Jon Hempstead, Sean Aspill, Robert Fraser and Nick Boxall-Hunt, the friends are determined Graeme’s memory will help raise awareness of depression. Both Mike and Charlie spoke of their shock when they heard that Graeme had gone missing, and when the sad news was announced.
Charlie said: “I think every part of society, no matter your ethnicity or gender, has its problems, but sometimes I think being male, middle-class, and middle-aged, means people think you don’t have any problems. But mental health can affect anyone, and suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.”
Hedley Graeme Mutton, known as Graeme, had a son, Tyler, and was employed as a PE teacher at the Deepings School. A talented all-round sportsman, he had played hockey in goal for Scotland’s national team, before becoming a teacher.
Mike has fond memories of going on rugby tours with Graeme while they were at school, before they each moved into their chosen sports fields. The runner plans to do more races and raise more money in memory of his friend. You can also donate to Mind by going to www.justgiving.com/Michael-Aldridge01/