The UK’s biggest-ever suicide awareness campaign is ready to launch this summer – after the Baton of Hope was donated to the charity behind the unprecedented event. 17 people will die by suicide today… tomorrow… and the day after that. Together we can reduce the stigma, and get better at asking questions, listening, and directing people to the right help. Together we can save lives. The baton, designed by Thomas Lyte will tour UK towns and cities for two weeks in the Summer of 2023, raising the profile of this issue like never before. #PASSITON
The Baton of Hope has been designed, crafted and donated by Thomas Lyte who hold a Royal Warrant as Goldsmiths and Silversmiths to the Late Queen Elizabeth II. Our company are best known as the designers, makers and restorers of many of the world’s most famous sporting trophies, including the Emirates FA Cup, The Ryder Cup and the Guinness Six Nations Trophy. Our Founder and CEO, Kevin Baker, offered to make the baton after learning about the charity’s mission to break the silence and stigma around suicide.
The sheer number of preventable suicides in UK surprised us all at Thomas Lyte. Impassioned by this, Kevin met with Mike McCarthy and Steve Phillip to express Thomas Lyte’s wholehearted support from all employees across our silversmithing and goldsmithing company.
This summer, the Baton of Hope will be carried around 12 cities across the UK by bereaved families and friends to highlight the magnitude of the suicide crisis.
(Above Image: Kevin Baker, Founder and CEO of Thomas Lyte hands Mike McCarthy the Baton of Hope)
Starting in Glasgow on Sunday 25 June, the Baton will eventually reach Downing Street on Thursday 6 July. The charity has invited families of those who have lost loved ones to suicide to carry the baton on its tour, with applications open at batonofhopeuk.org
The charity was co-founded by two bereaved fathers, former TV reporter and presenter Mike McCarthy who lost his son Ross to suicide in 2021, and Steve Phillip whose son Jordan took his life 14 months earlier.
(Above Image: Mike McCarthy with the Baton of Hope)
Mike said: “I am deeply moved and humbled to be accepting the Baton which will be carried with honour as a symbol of compassion, hope and responsibility. ‘Responsibility’ because everyone of us can play a part in bringing down the UK’s stubbornly high suicide rate which kills more adults under 35 than anything else.”
“I hope that people from all backgrounds and walks of life will recognise that the vast majority of suicides are preventable with the right care. We have a huge mountain to climb in breaking the stigma, educating our children about the importance of mental wellbeing and re-calibrating our approach to the societal catastrophe created by suicide.”
Mike McCarthy, Co-Founder of Baton of Hope
Ross McCarthy took his own life when he was just 31, leaving a devastated family including his three-year old-son and a fiancée who he had been unable to marry because of lockdown. In a farewell letter Ross urged his family: “Please fight for mental health. The support is just not there.” After suffering with severe depression for more than ten years, he was put on a six-month long waiting list for therapy. Ross died two weeks into the wait.
His dad Mike said: “Like hundreds of thousands of others, my son died partly as the result of an overstretched, underfunded, mental health provision which has long been treated as the Cinderella service of the NHS and swept under the carpet. The suicide statistics in the UK have stagnated for more than 15 years. It’s time for change.”
(Above Image: Kevin Hart, Head Silversmith at Thomas Lyte with Mike McCarthy and the Baton of Hope)
The Baton of Hope has attracted hundreds of supporters from across the UK. They include Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former press secretary, who has spoken openly about his spells of depression.
Campbell said: “I have been a supporter of the Baton of Hope project from the moment Mike McCarthy told me his idea because I can see the benefit it can bring to the debate around suicide and mental health more generally. We have made so much progress when it comes to awareness but there remains far too much stigma and taboo around the issue of suicide, and a failure to understand across politics and across society that most lives lost to suicide can be saved. I was pleased to introduce Thomas Lyte to the Baton of Hope team because I knew that together they would come up with something good. Which they have.”
(Above Image: Kevin Baker, Founder and CEO of Thomas Lyte)
Thomas Lyte’s Founder and Chief Executive, Kevin Baker commented: “When I first heard about the idea of the Baton of Hope, I felt compelled to help and knew this was something our company could be part of. Throughout the process of design and crafting we have learned much about the scale of the suicide crisis, and the desperate need for a determined and united approach. I fervently believe that the Baton of Hope will become a lasting symbol representing what we can achieve if we come together with purpose and recognise there can be a better way.”
For more information about how you can support the Baton of Hope initiative, including for applications to carry the baton, visit batonofhopeuk.org.
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