COLLEAGUES of a school teacher who died suddenly earlier this year are urging people to reach out and get help for their mental health.

More than a dozen members of staff from Knox Academy Meadowpark will pull on their walking boots this summer to remember their colleague.

Rebecca McHugh, who is an ASN (additional support needs) auxiliary at the school, told the Courier that the death of her 46-year-old colleague had come as a shock.

She said: “It was during the February holidays and I was called by my boss.

“I had to say ‘can you say that again?’ because I was in so much shock.

“I had spent the Friday with him talking about what we would do in the holidays – it was not real.

“I think immediately after going back into work and seeing his classroom lying empty, where he would park his car was empty – it hit us really hard.

“We wanted to channel our grief and make sure this happens to as few people as possible going ahead.”

Miss McHugh, who lives in Tranent, said they did not want to name the member of staff so as not to upset the pupils at the school.

It was following the tragic death that staff began to realise the stark situation surrounding people, particularly men, and mental health.

The 19-year-old said: “Eighty-four men per week take their own lives.

“These men shouldn’t just be a number, they are sons, dads, brothers, uncles and grandads.

“We have lost a wonderful colleague recently and have decided to walk a 26-mile marathon to help raise awareness and funds for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).”

A route for the walk, which takes place on July 9, is being drawn up. Walkers leave Knox Academy Meadowpark before following the River Tyne to East Linton.

From there, walkers will take in Drem and Binning Wood before heading towards North Berwick and finally returning to the school on Haddington’s Victoria Road.

A raffle and refreshments will be on offer at the school on the day.

Opened in 2016, Knox Academy Meadowpark has 33 pupils with a range of additional support needs.

Already, the walkers have been working on their social media profile, tagging celebrities including MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace, Dr Alex George, who was on Love Island and now serves as the UK Youth Mental Health Ambassador within the Department for Education, and Scottish rugby star Stuart Hogg.

Councillor Fiona Dugdale, the local authority’s spokeswoman for education and children’s services, said: “I’d like to commend Becca and the Meadowpark team for taking on this challenge. Through their walk they are making a real difference by raising awareness of this important issue, and raising funds that will allow CALM to support more people in need. I wish them well.”

Support the walkers at For more information on CALM, call 0800 58 58 58.