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The meaning behind the movement

November 29, 2020 | in Community News

As we near the end of Movember, the AV team have left nothing behind. Whether they’ve cycled 700 km in 7 days, grown a mo’, or completed push-ups every day, they’ve each tackled it differently. And in doing so, they’ve raised over $58,00 so far.

Movember is- at it’s core- about sparking conversations around mental health. But for some, the motivation is deeply personal. We’re honored to share the stories of Rhiannon Davis and Madeline Pearson, and the men they’re honouring in Movember.

Please be aware, that this article talks of suicide, and while this topic is an important one, it may be triggering for some.

Based in South West Victoria, Rhiannon Davis is typically a keen netballer. But this Movember, Rhi has committed to run a total of 60 km and do 60 sit ups and push ups each day.

Rhi on the move for Movember.

As a regional paramedic in Hamilton, she has a healthy network of friends and contacts. Over the years, she’s gotten to know most local police officers and when Rhi was introduced to Senior Constable Brenton, they hit if off and became close friends.

Brenton was kind, infectiously outgoing and proudly gay. During their friendship, Rhi had no idea about the mental health struggles Brenton faced, which led him to eventually take his life. The whole town of Hamilton and beyond, was impacted by Brenton’s passing which was marked by a full Victorian Police escort. He was just 27.

Rhi and Brenton

Through Movember, and through open conversations, Rhi wants to shine the light on the tolls of mental health and let everyone know that it’s not a sign of weakness. She says ‘reaching out or asking for help is not failing at your job, no one is immune to it, not even paramedics or police officers.’

Maddi is another one of our talented paramedics based in Brighton. This year, she’s pledged to not only run 60km for the month of November but also cycle 60km as a part of her MOve campaign.

Maddi’s motivation comes from her beloved cousin Chris, and November 15 will mark the first anniversary of his death to suicide. Due to the global pandemic, Maddi and her extended family are unable to get together to remember Chris in the way they’d hoped.

Maddi on the move for Movember

Since his teenage years, Chris struggled with depression, anxiety and substance use. He received unwavering support from his family and loved ones as well as professional help, but continued to struggle throughout his twenties and thirties.

Although Chris’ mental health battles were apparent, it was still traumatically heartbreaking for Maddi and her wider family to discover that Chris had died by suicide at the age of 36.

Left: Chris, right with his brother Ollie, left and father Stuart, middle
Right: Family photo with Chris on the far right and Maddi as a baby 1995

In 2014, Maddi also lost a close family friend, Jeff. As somewhat of a ‘second dad’ growing up, Jeff was engaging, warm and with a near-constant smile on his face. He was a loving family man.

Like it so often is, Jeff’s death by suicide was an unexpected shock. Maddi and her family had no idea of the underlying anxiety he had struggled with.

Maddi’s message to all is about ‘the importance of conversations around mental health’ and it comes from a place of understanding devastating grief.

To honour them both, Maddi will be releasing two special episodes on mental health as a part of the podcast she runs with fellow paramedic Amanda Abbass, called One Percent Stronger.

At Ambulance Victoria we are proud of the Rhi, Maddi and the team behind our Movember campaign.

To donate to Ambulance Victoria’s Movember Campaign, visit here. Maddi has set up her own Movember page too, visit it here.

To listen to One Percent Stronger, click on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or search ‘One Percent Stronger’ wherever you get your podcasts.