Man completes marathon alongside stranger who talked him out of suicide
A genuinely heartwarming story
The London Marathon has a knack for throwing up heartwarming stories, but few compare to Jonny Benjamin’s run this weekend.
Benjamin had been suffering from mental ill-health when Good Samaritan Neil Laybourn intervened to talk him down from Waterloo Bridge in 2008, telling him things could and would get better.
A lengthy viral campaign helped Benjamin track down Laybourn years later with the journey forming the basis for the #FindMike viral campaign and 2015 documentary film The Stranger on the Bridge.
The years since have seen relentless campaigning from the pair, including TV spots and public speaking, all with the aim of raising awareness of mental health issues up and down the country.
And this weekend, the pair teamed up to run the marathon for the mental health charity Heads Together, which has been backed by Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
At the time of writing, they have raised more than £30,000, a sum which will be split between mental health charities including Mind, YoungMinds, Place2Be and CALM.
They also launched a silent auction in support of Heads Together, with a view to raising even more money for the cause, and completed the race in a not-too-shabby five hours and 26 minutes.
The most emotional moment came when the marathon route took them past Waterloo Bridge, where they first met all those years ago.
“It's hard to put the experience into words but it was pretty phenomenal,” Benjamin said.
“The best thing about today was running alongside Neil for 26.2 miles. We ran past Waterloo Bridge at one point, the place where we met.
“The journey we've been on since that day 9 years ago has been extraordinary. But we couldn't have done any it without your love and support and encouragement. So massive thank-you to all!”