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Harry enlists former stars to put marathon runners through their paces

Prince Harry gave high fives over the River Tyne as he joined Steve Cram and Jonathan Edwards in training runners taking part in the London Marathon for mental health charity Heads Together.

The trio put on the coaching session on the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside for competitors from across the North East and Scotland running for the organisation.

Harry joked with Cram, who was dressed in shorts and a headband, about a bandage on his knee as the three of them stood on the Millennium Bridge and encouraged runners as they did shuttle runs back and forth.

Joking that one runner looked like Johnny Vegas, he shouted for them to catch the ones in front.

He also greeted some of the by-standers, including a little boy in a bobble hat, asking if they had been tempted to join in the training.

Spearheaded by Harry along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Heads Together aims to change the national conversation on mental well-being to a positive one.

Former triple jumper Edwards said: "Mental health preparation is incredibly important.

"I think to have Prince Harry and his brother is fantastic for this.

"I think lots of people struggle with mental health issues, but I think if you can talk to someone about your struggles like I would with my old coach, it's so important and something we need to do."

Earlier Harry began the visit to the North East by meeting veterans who have received mental health support from a military charity.

He attended an event hosted by Walking With The Wounded in Gateshead where he discussed issues faced by ex-servicemen and women.

Wearing a navy blue shirt and khaki trousers, he was met by dignitaries and Ed Parker, the chief executive of Walking With The Wounded, before being taken inside the building to talk to beneficiaries of the charity's projects.

Speaking to the group, he commended the charity on its work.

He said: "What you guys are doing here is truly fantastic.

"There are guys and girls who, because of you, have been taken out of an incredibly dark place and offered a train track heading in one direction.

"They have turned their lives around and can be recognised for the service that they gave and the people that they are, rather than the mistakes they made."

Julie Cain, 53, from Byker, and Maria Scott, 46, from Gateshead, said they had been waiting to see the prince since 8am.

Draped in Union flags, they gave Harry flowers with a picture of Diana, Princess of Wales attached to the bouquet.

Ms Cain said: "We're big royalists but we love Harry especially."

Talking about the work Harry is doing for Walking With The Wounded's mental health projects, Ms Scott said: "He's giving these people a voice and they've struggled to be heard in the past. I think what he's doing is amazing."

Harry rounded off the visit by giving a speech at Virgin Money headquarters in Newcastle, one of the official partners of Heads Together.

Introducing the prince, company CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia shared with the hundreds of employees who had come to listen about the struggles that she had faced with mental health.

Harry said: "Thank you Jayne-Anne for that introduction and thank you so much to everyone in this room for your enthusiasm for the Heads Together campaign - especially those of you wearing your headbands.

"You've just heard one of the country's leading business figures speak openly about facing a difficult moment in her life.

"You've heard her talk about realising that she needed to ask for help from a colleague and to ask for the time to get her life back on track; and you've seen her celebrate the fact that her own experiences with a mental health challenge have made her a better leader today."

He said: "William, Catherine and I started this campaign because we saw that fear of judgment, stigma, and outdated prejudice meant that too many people stayed quiet about their mental health challenges."

He also visited the charity village where he met staff who have been raising funds and awareness about mental health.


From Belfast Telegraph