NW200 chiefs sign up with mental health charity
The fonaCAB & Nicholl Oils North West 200 have announced that mental health charity Olive Branch will be the sole designated charity of the 2020 event.
The Magherafelt-based organisation employs three mental health professionals plus two front of house staff who are both former nurses, offering treatment and support to those suffering from mental health problems.
"We are absolutely thrilled to have been selected to be the North West 200 charitable partner for 2020," said Leoné Paul, chairwoman of Olive Branch.
"In light of the current mental health crisis here in Northern Ireland, 20-25% higher levels than compared to the rest of the UK, it is vital that our services are known throughout the province, and we can't think of a better way to raise awareness of our charity and services than through collaboration with the North West 200.
"Mid-Ulster's suicide rate is the highest throughout the UK so we have opened a free-of-charge, no appointment necessary self-referral Mental Health Well-being Centre in Magherafelt, a central location, with the aim to maintain our free-of-charge counselling service plus offer satellite counselling services periodically in each county by way of a mobile counselling unit so we are more accessible for all."
North West 200 event director Mervyn Whyte, MBE, said: "Mental Health issues can affect anyone and everyone, from every walk of life. The work Olive Branch is doing is vital in ensuring those who suffer know they are not alone.
"Olive Branch offers professional and vital help at crucial times and we hope that North West 200 fans will support the work the charity does in the same way they have supported so many other very worthwhile charities down the years."
On the competitor front, it would appear that British Superstock 1000cc champion Richard Cooper - a podium finisher on his circuit debut back in May when riding the Superstock Buildbase Suzuki - will make a return to the Triangle between May 10-16, having signed to ride for event veteran and 14-time North West 200 winner Michael Rutter's Bathams BMW team for next year.
Meanwhile, an evening with five-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will take place in a sold-out event tonight at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Shaws Bridge, Belfast.
Fresh from topping the final test session of 2019 at Jerez on his Kawasaki and receiving his world championship winning medal at the FIM Awards Gala in Monaco on Sunday, Rea's guests on stage include ex-250cc Grand Prix winner Jeremy McWilliams and the Irwin brothers.
The event is set to commence at 8pm for what should be an entertaining and fun evening, with Jonathan back on home soil amongst his loyal fan base and friends.