Clanfield family devastated by army son’s suicide are raising mental health charity funds 

Kyle Pritchard in his army uniform in 2017
Kyle Pritchard in his army uniform in 2017

A MOTHER whose young son committed suicide after leaving the army is raising mental health charity funds in his name with a three-hour body combat marathon.

Diane Walker said if only her son Kyle Pritchard, who was 20 when he took his own life, knew suicide prevention charities like Papyrus could help him – she may be telling a different story today.

Kyle and mum Diane Walker completed the Great South Run together in 2016. They are pictured here with Diane's daughter and Kyle's sister Ava-Rose, who was six at the time

Kyle and mum Diane Walker completed the Great South Run together in 2016. They are pictured here with Diane's daughter and Kyle's sister Ava-Rose, who was six at the time

Diane, 40 and from Clanfield, was given the body combat marathon in Kyle’s name for her birthday this year by best friend Emily James, and was overwhelmed by the gesture.

The event will take place at Havant Leisure Centre on Saturday and the pair are hoping anyone affected by suicide will help them to raise awareness.

Diane said: ‘Kyle was diagnosed with dyslexia while he was at The Petersfield School, it’s something that really affected him.

‘After, he wanted to join the army and I said he could as long as he didn’t join the infantry – that’s exactly what he did.

‘He didn’t get through selection a couple of times but he didn’t give up. Eventually he made it and he couldn’t have been prouder after joining in August 2016.

‘But his mental health issues meant he couldn’t keep up with the other lads, he kept getting backtracked because he couldn’t keep up with academic work and he was ridiculed by his comrades. 

‘He suffered with depression, anxiety and was agoraphobic, he didn’t want to go out anywhere. We found out he tried to commit suicide in January last year. 

‘After 14 months he left the army and lived in a halfway house in Gloucester. He was very depressed and lost. He felt disappointed in himself.

‘At Christmas last year it really dawned on me he wasn’t himself.

‘He wasn’t the boy we once knew at all. He was normally such a happy, loving, considerate and sociable young man, but he became very insular.’

Last year Diane’s daughter Ciara Pritchard, 20, was diagnosed with kidney failure and lost the use of her legs. She needed a transplant and in November, Diane gave Ciara a kidney.

It was for this reason Diane feels Kyle did not reveal the extent of his suffering to her.

In February the family, including Kyle’s three younger sisters, received news that would change their lives forever. Kyle had taken his own life.

Diane added: ‘It was devastating. It blew our whole worlds apart.

‘His sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, everyone including me worshipped him, we have big holes left in our hearts.

‘I don’t want this to happen to anyone else unnecessarily. I want to raise awareness and funds and I hope anyone out there affected by suicide will come along to the event.’

Monday saw World Suicide Prevention Day marked across the globe.

Diane and Emily are raising funds for Papyrus – a charity for the prevention of young suicide.

More than 50 people have signed up to take part, from 2pm to 5pm, but there’s room for 400.

Emily, who has been pals with Diane for three years, said: 'Diane spent a year trying to keep her daughter alive and then she lost Kyle. 

'For her 40th she didn't want a fuss because it would have been Kyle’s 21st two weeks later, so I set up the body combat marathon for her as a gift.

‘It was my chance to give her something to focus on because we love body combat anyway, it was one of the only things that kept her going.’

To sign-up, donate £15 and leave your name, stating that you want to take part on Diane’s JustGiving page. Others not wanting to take part can donate funds anyway.

Attendees can stop and start the marathon as they please, with beginners and first-timers all welcome.