Brave Hugh’s bid to help others

Hugh Marden, who is hoping to set up a new mental health support group called 'Mind Full'. (1810SL04) Photo: Stephen Latimer
Hugh Marden, who is hoping to set up a new mental health support group called 'Mind Full'. (1810SL04) Photo: Stephen Latimer
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A brave Limavady man has revealed his inspirational journey battling ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ in a bid to help others.

Hugh Marden courageously spoke out this week about what happened to him when he was a young boy, and the impact that has had, and continues to have, on his life. With previous involvement in a support group, he knows how beneficial such a structure is and now, he is hoping to set up a similar body called ‘Mind Full” in the Roe Valley.

“I think there is still a stigma around mental health, although there is much more help available and it’s not as bad as it used to be,” he said.

Married, with a grown up family, 51-year-old Hugh grew up in Kent, England. He revealed when he was just 10, a stranger attempted to tie him up and assault him.

Hugh, who has made this corner of North Derry his home for the past 25 years, recalls the traumatic incident as if it were yesterday.

“I was on my bike and this man came up to me and asked me to help pull his motorbike out of the ditch,” said Hugh. “I was a 10-year-old boy and thought it was cool.”

The man lured Hugh into a remote area, and produced a rope and tried to tie him up.

Hugh said he was flooded with fear and terror, but managed to escape when he distracted the man.

“I was left very shaken and it made me lose trust in everyone,” he said. “It takes me a long time to trust someone.”

Hugh received a visit from a liaison officer after the ordeal, but says it was never spoken of again, other than when police called to say the man had attempted a similar attack and had been caught and subsequently jailed. “I think that was the start of it,” he says. “It’s had a big impact on me all through my life. I was always able to go to work, but when I got home I would sit and think and dwell on it. I started to have panic attacks and it got to the stage where I couldn’t even make it to the front gate.”

Hugh says his family, and in particular his wife, have been brilliant and steadfast in their support for him. He has also received professional mental health counselling, and treatment, for which he is extremely grateful, but what he feels would complement that is an “out of hours” support group for people with anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. He said PTSD is normally associated with military combat or violent incidents, for example, but he believes a group for “like minded people” who suffer PTSD and anxiety - including people affected by the recession - would be beneficial.

“Even if they wanted to have a general chat,” he said, “I think it would help. I think there is a need for it.”

Catherine Farrimond, Community Development Officer with Limavady Borough Council said: “I am delighted to be working with Hugh to help advise him on setting up his group, devising a Constitution, assisting and advising on funding opportunities and sign posting to relevant agencies. If this can take the strain away then I am happy to help. I think it is such an important subject and to have a support group in Limavady would be so beneficial. I wish Hugh the very best and look forward to helping set up the group and ensuring that all groups in the Borough are aware of it and I am delighted that Hugh is part of Limavady Community Network, so he can make good contacts and link in with the excellent work being carried out in the Borough.”

The group has not been set up yet, but if you would like to get in contact with Hugh, or feel you can assist him, email Hugh at moyse30@aol.com

Facts - Post-traumatic stress disorder

(PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.

The type of events that can cause PTSD include: military combat, serious road accidents, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, such as severe floods, earthquakes or tsunamis, being held hostage, witnessing violent deaths, violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery.

PTSD can develop immediately after someone experiences a disturbing event or it can occur weeks, months or even years later.

PTSD can be successfully treated, even when it develops many years after a traumatic event. (nhs.co.uk)