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Families in Ollerton spoke with the Local Democracy Reporting Service in hopes that it become “the town that talks” after seven young local men took their own lives in just over two years





Families say they want to turn Ollerton into “the town that talks” after seven young local men took their own lives in just over two years.

The families of some of the men have spoken out after local leaders said the Nottinghamshire town needs more mental health support following the tragedies.

All seven men were all under the age of 40 when they took their own lives between June 2021 and July 2023. Four of them were in their 20s and two were in their 30s. One teenager also took his own life.

Jane and Paul Beardsley. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Jane and Paul Beardsley. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Mum Jane Beardsley, whose son Paul died in January last year, said: “It’s the old story that men don’t cry. But men do cry and they do have feelings.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has verified the number of deaths by checking coroners’ records and speaking to locals in the community.

While some of the men knew each other, there is no suggestion the deaths are directly linked.

Families, councillors and community campaigners are now working together to ensure people get the help they need.

A new support group has been set up in the town and Labour councillor Lee Brazier says people in Ollerton, including public-facing workers, will be offered mental health training.

Lee Brazier. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Lee Brazier. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Mr Brazier, who is district ward member and mayor for Ollerton said the town has been “forgotten” and believes it now has one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

Government statistics show the suicide rate in England and Wales was 10.5 deaths per 100,000 people across the 12 months of 2022.

According to recent Census data, 11,000 people live in Ollerton.

Three of the seven men died across 12 months starting June 2021 and ending May 2022. A further four died during the 13 months starting June 2022 – suggesting the town’s suicide rate was more than three times the national rate during the time the deaths occurred.

Statistically, men are significantly more likely to take their own lives than women, although why this is is not precisely understood.

Men account for three-quarters of all suicides in the UK. Suicide is also the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45.

Paul Beardsley. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Paul Beardsley. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The parents of Paul Beardsley have set up their own Community Interest Company in his name – Paul’s Pit Stop – a nod to his love of cars and the town’s mining history.

Mum Jane and her partner Mark Gamble said Paul would often call in for a chat at their home before heading off to his shift working as a chef at Center Parcs.

Paul took his own life on January 18 2022, aged 31.

Mrs Beardsley described Paul as a “big lad, covered in tattoos, with a heart as soft as a brush”.

She said: “When Paul died, the pain was like nothing I’ve ever had before. My heart physically hurt. We never dreamt he’d do anything like this.

“It’s the old story that men don’t cry. But men do cry and they do have feelings.”

In 2023 Mrs Beardsley carried the ‘Baton of Hope’ which toured the UK for suicide prevention. She said it was a “proud and very emotional” moment.

Jane Beardsley carried the 'baton of hope' in 2023. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Jane Beardsley carried the 'baton of hope' in 2023. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The couple have since heard about other deaths in Ollerton, and are now taking action.

Mr Gamble said: “Paul put a mask on. We thought he was fine, we’d seen him a few days before.

“It’s a waste of a young person’s life. Ollerton is a pit village and it used to have a community which has now gone.”

Paul’s Pit Stop is now running events to raise money for mental health awareness in the town.

Everleigh Frame’s boyfriend Devon Singleton took his own life in May 2023.

Devon Singleton pictured with Everleigh Frame. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Devon Singleton pictured with Everleigh Frame. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The couple had been together for two years and Ms Frame said Devon, who was a support worker for adults with special needs, would “genuinely light up a room” and was “very popular”.

Devon was 28 when he died, weeks before the couple were set to leave Ollerton and move to Brighton, which had been a long-term plan.

Ms Frame, 23, said: “I had absolutely zero idea that he would do what he did.

“Our future was looking good, we had each other and we were going to be moving down to Brighton and buying a van which is what we dreamed of doing.

“For me, it’s everything I wanted, but it wasn’t going to be enough for someone who was clearly mentally unwell and didn’t know how to cope.”

“When it happens so close to you, it brings it to the forefront of people’s minds.

“It’s easy to hear that number and forget about the lives that are permanently changed for the people who have survived. All the families have been ripped apart.”

Everleigh Frame. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Everleigh Frame. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Lee Brazier says more support is needed and has called for help from Nottinghamshire County Council and the government.

He said: “It came to my attention last summer that we had two suicides in the space of two weeks.

“There was an outcry from the community for support. Within a week and a half, we set up a men’s peer support group.”

The deaths in the town have impacted Mr Brazier on a personal level, too.

He said: “In 2018 I attempted to take my own life. I woke up and realised I had something to live for.

“Those young lads haven’t had that opportunity to see the impact their death had.

“I consider myself very fortunate that I woke up. That was my lowest point and since then I’ve been committed to helping others.

“My eight-year-old daughter is a huge motivation for me to do this because I want her to grow up in a world where the stigma is gone.

“Ollerton has been left behind and it has led to seven families losing sons, brothers, uncles and fathers.”

Ollerton. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Ollerton. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Councillor Brazier has launched a project called ‘The Town That Talks’, with a focus on early intervention.

He said frontline workers will be “empowered with basic knowledge if they come across someone showing signs of distress”.

Working with a local college, free qualifications in ‘Understanding Mental Health Problems’ and ‘Children and Young People’s Mental Health’ will be offered to everyone in the town.

Pete Dobson is one of the men behind the effort to get people talking about mental health in Ollerton.

He runs the local support group called ‘In Sam’s Name’ which originated in Worksop and has now expanded to Ollerton after the spike in deaths.

He said: “Talking has made such a difference. We pass a football around the room and we ask open-ended questions. People help each other and it’s so heartwarming.

“Some people will come because they’ve lost a dog, others come because they have lost a child. It could be a drink or drug problem, loneliness or a relationship breakdown. It doesn’t matter what the problem is.”

Mr Dobson is also undertaking a counselling qualification.

He said: “Some of the boys who died used to come to the pub but they didn’t talk about what was really bothering them.

“It’s frightening. It’s a case of us pushing on to get more people talking.

“We need to reduce that statistic and stop people doing it.”

Josh Daggett. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Josh Daggett. Photo: Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Josh Daggett, landlord of the Plough in Ollerton, where some of the men drank socially, has lived in Ollerton for 24 years.

He said the number of deaths is “surreal”. He said: “Young people don’t want to talk because they think they will be seen as weak.

“The support groups are really important. If we don’t do something the numbers are just going to go up.

“It’s about breaking that boundary that it’s ok to talk, which just isn’t there yet.”

Scott Carlton, Nottinghamshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities and public health, said “every death by suicide is a tragedy”.

He said the council cannot comment on individual cases but added: “Where deaths by suspected suicide do occur, we work with our partners to monitor data through Real Time Surveillance so that timely support and responses can be put in place.

“These include supporting people affected by suicide into specialist bereavement support, targeted communications, positive mental health promotion and signposting into training and support services.

“There is always support available and we encourage anyone who is experiencing thoughts about suicide to speak to someone who can help.”

The Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

The Nottinghamshire Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0808 196 3779.

You can contact the Samaritans at any time by calling 116 123.

The Tomorrow Project offers support to anyone bereaved by suicide, you can email info@tomorrowproject.org.uk or text on 07594 008 356.

The ‘In Sam’s Name’ support group in Ollerton is every Wednesday, with alternate weeks for men and women at Ambleside Community Centre.



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