Meet the Bristol Uni students running to Cardiff in support of Mind and Narcolepsy UK

The group of boys hope to ‘break the silence’ around mental health and narcolepsy


A Bristol University student with narcolepsy, Freddie Dowland, and five friends are undertaking the epic challenge of running from Bristol to Cardiff, “trekking from the harsh environments of the Bristol Downs, venturing through all sorts of terrain, crossing the Severn Bridge and finishing in Cardiff Central.”

The group of six third-year students intend to complete the impressive 40 miles in an effort to raise money for charities Mind and Narcolepsy UK, “in support of Freddie.”

Outlined on their JustGiving page, the group explain their mission to not only “break the silence” around mental health, but also “raise awareness, fund research and support individuals with narcolepsy”. One of the members of the group, Freddie Dowland, was diagnosed with narcolepsy at age 11.

He is “constantly challenged with excessive daytime sleepiness” and the social constraints and barriers that this causes.

Freddie talks about how he was previously unable to do the things he enjoyed – playing football, cricket and choir singing: “Not being able to do all the sports I used to do, especially not at the same standard, was demoralising.”

Freddie describes how the “sudden loss of muscle control/muscular weakness” known as cataplexy caused him difficulty when playing sport: “During football, I’d get droopy (what I call the cataplexy) whenever I did a good skill or found something funny.”

As there is currently no cure, medication and lifestyle changes are essential in managing the condition; Freddie is on a “cocktail” of medication to keep him awake during the day, and enable him to rest during the night – another symptom of narcolepsy is disrupted night-time sleep.

While the boys crack jokes about Freddie being “the sleepiest one in the group”, it is clear they are fiercely supportive, proved not only by their dedication to raising money and awareness for their friend’s condition but also by their open attitude to discussing their struggles.

Finn Carter, Freddie’s coursemate and housemate who is also partaking in the run, says: “As a house of six boys we understand the importance of being open with one another about any problems- one of the reasons we have chosen Mind as one of our charities.”

It seems the group practice what they preach about “being more open with the homies”, an inspiring message to all students.

The group, consisting of Joe Hughes, Charlie Mills, Josh Gordon, Lewis Danter, Finn Carter and Freddie Dowland, hope that “your donations will go to invaluable and essential research to support and help find a cure.”

Less than two weeks away from the “dreaded day” of the run, December 2nd, the boys have managed to raise an admirable £1,925, just £75 away from their £2000 goal. The page is flooded with messages commending the boys for raising awareness for the chronic sleep disorder and wishing them the best of luck on the day.

Featured image credit @finn_carter1

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