One of the most exciting children’s authors in the UK today and child mental health campaigner, Natalie Reeves-Billing, is spending 48-hours on a floating pedalo to raise funds and awareness to support child mental health.
The author stepped aboard “Peggie the Pedalo” on May 9 – the official start of Mental Health Awareness Week – where she will stay and sleep for at least 48-hours on a lake near to Manor House Farm on the Wirral.
Supporters were invited to join Natalie, make a donation via the Welba App, and then log their own steps to help the author reach her 300-mile target, which she must hit before she can get off the pedalo. The app will track walking, running or exercise, so as well as just making a financial donation, supporters can also donate their miles to Natalie’s campaign.
All proceeds from the challenge will go to the national Boat of Hope campaign, which will see Liverpool charity guru and adventurer, Bernie Hollywood OBE embark on a 90-day solo sail from the Canaries to Antigua in 2022 to raise £1m for various causes.
At a time when many families are affected by the cost of living crisis, and when countless children and young people are struggling to access mental health support, Natalie is keenly aware that fundraising can play a vital role in helping to fill the gaps to support those in need.
Natalie Reeves-Billing, said:
“So many individuals have volunteered their own time to make this happen, and I’m so grateful to people and organisations like Liverpool John Moores’ Screen School and students, Wirral Shotokan Karate Club, Liverpool Heartbeat charity, The Pod Cafe and Gateacre High School, who are all contributing in such meaningful ways to make this happen, as well as countless volunteers who support the campaign.
“I’m hoping people will donate their miles sooner rather than later… it wouldn’t be possible without them.”
Before the challenge begins, the Lord Mayor of Liverpool gave a blessing to ‘Peggie’, while the ‘Sing Me’ Merseyside Choir gave a special nautical performance. There was also a fun walk, where Natalie and her supporters dressed up in nautical costumes and walked for five miles before the author boarded her pedalo.
Author of The Monstrous Me Collection and Ben and the Bug, Natalie Reeves-Billing is a storyteller with a mission, whose wicked sense of humour and quirkiness creates worlds and characters that not only enthral young readers, but talks to them openly and honestly about mental health issues. Through her split perspective stories, which explore multiple points of view and narratives, the author speaks to children and their parents in ways few authors have before – making them understand that it is good to talk openly together about their thoughts and feelings, and learn from each other by listening.
The Boat of Hope campaign will open up a conversation on depression and in particular the young adults it affects, with a view to help destigmatize it to a UK and global audience of 950 million children and adults. The aim is to raise over £1 million for two supporting charities – Samaritans and LOVE Rowing, British Rowing’s Charitable Foundation. Natalie is the early years and primary ambassador for the campaign.
Last year, Natalie released ‘Bernie & Boatie’, with all proceeds going to the campaign. ‘Bernie and Boatie’ is published by Natalie’s own publishing imprint, Lollipop Lodge, and is available to buy on Amazon.
Natalie will also be releasing a series of child mental health books in June with her publishers, Tiny Tree. These books will be about opening up conversations with children about their feelings and emotions.