Liam honoured by walk in his memory

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The Invisible campaign group stand proudly with Liam Fletcher's friends and family at St Luke's Church before the memorial walk starts

The Invisible campaign group stand proudly with Liam Fletcher’s friends and family at St Luke’s Church before the memorial walk starts. Pic by Christy Jade Biggar © JMU Journalism

A march in memory of LJMU student Liam Fletcher was held in the city centre last night to highlight the dangers of depression.

Liam, a 21-year-old Fine Art student, took his own life last month and a campaign was instantly launched to raise awareness about mental health issues.

Organised by The Invisible group, the march started at St Luke’s, better known as the Bombed Out Church and the crowd walked through town, holding a campaign banner and wearing t-shirts printed with Liam’s nickname ‘Fletch’, along with a picture of him.

Walking proudly at the front of the march, Liam’s mother Pauline told JMU Journalism how depression is overlooked among many men. She said: “This is only the start of raising awareness. Girls open up a lot more, whereas men hide it. They’re ‘manly men’ and won’t admit they have a problem.”

Before Liam’s death, Pauline knew Liam had made a decision. She said: “I came home from work and he was really at peace with himself. He was the happiest he’d been for ages. This wasn’t a split second decision.”

Parcels have arrived from Liam for his mother from beyond the grave. She said: “He’d already bought my Christmas presents online. It’s heart breaking for the family. The only solace I’ve got is that he’s at peace and he’s not tormented.”

Pauline, 47, a hairdresser in Old Swan, said: “Most think that people suffering with depression stop looking after themselves hygienically. It’s not always the case. He was immaculate. I knew he wasn’t well, but he put on a front.”

She told JMU Journalism how Liam would travel to the Albert Dock to help the homeless: “I’d ask him where he was going and he’d say, ‘I’m going to feed the people who need feeding.’”

Pauline, Liam's mother spoke to the crowd on Church Street, telling them, "I have lost my best friend." Pic by Christy Jade Biggar © JMU Journalism

Pauline, Liam’s mother spoke to the crowd on Church Street, telling them, “I have lost my best friend.” Pic by Christy Jade Biggar © JMU Journalism

A talented artist, her son befriended many homeless in the city and painted them. His pictures hang in the family home.

Marching behind Liam’s family was Breege McDaid, of Irish Community Care. She told JMU Journalism: “Depression is a big issue within our community. The brain is like any other organ in the body. It cannot work as it should.”

Anthony Brumfitt, a mental health worker who started The Invisible campaign, told JMU Journalism: “We are hoping to merge with MIND, the mental health charity, to gain recognition. In my experience, men suffer more than women but women come and talk. Men bottle it up. You just can’t keep it all inside.”

Pauline thanked the crowd at the end of the walk near the Liver Building where everyone cheered and clapped for her son.

She said: “Liam was on this earth for such a short time. I promise this is only the beginning, this [campaign] is what will keep me going.”

About Christy Jade Biggar, JMU Journalism