Hannah catches up with Jez Avery, the official joker of the British mountain bike scene and finds a darker side that nearly did for him.
Words Hannah Photography Mark and as credited
“I love waking up in the mornings.” It’s taken stunt rider Jez Avery a long while to be able to say this, because behind the showman front he’s been dogged – “tortured” he says – by mental illness. If you’re of a certain age, there’s a good chance you had a poster of Jez on your wall. Somersaulting into a harbour, leaping over a row of cars, or otherwise improbably balancing on a mountain bike, he was a well-known face in magazines and on the mountain bike events circuit throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Indeed, at last year’s Malverns revival, he was one of those fixtures that needed to be there to make it feel right. But he nearly didn’t make the Malverns in summer 2018 at all – in winter 2017 he made plans to end his life.
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Information and Support: Mental health
If you, or someone you know, have been affected by mental health issues, the following organisations may be able to help.
Mental Health Foundation
Mental Health Foundation provides a guide to Mental Health problems, topical issues and treatment options via their website.
Mind provides advice and support on a range of topics including types of mental health problem, legislation and details of local help and support in England and Wales.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 www.mind.org.uk
Information, support and advice for children and young people. Help for parents of those under 25 offered by phone.
Phone: 0808 802 5544 youngminds.org.uk
Inspire (Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health) provides local services to support the mental health and wellbeing of people across Northern Ireland.
Phone: 028 9032 8474 www.inspirewellbeing.org
SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health)
General mental health information and signpost you to your local services.
Phone: 0141 530 1000 www.samh.org.uk
Community Advice & Listening Line
Offering emotional support and information on mental health and related matters to people in Wales.
Phone: 0800 132 737 (24/7) or text “help” to 81066
Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Phone: 116 123 www.samaritans.org