‘I lost my dad to cancer – then mum took her own life. I couldn’t speak’

Chris’s extraordinary fundraising efforts since the loss of his parents have seen him win the Sport category at the National Lottery Awards 2021

Former National Lottery-funded athlete Victoria Pendleton presented Chris with his award

January 28 will always be the most difficult of days for Chris Sellar.

That was the date, almost two years ago, when the 31-year-old’s mother Hilary took her own life.

“The loss of Mum in the way we lost her was devastating,” he says. “It was utter shell shock. The morning after it happened, I couldn’t speak. I was so emotionally numb I couldn’t process anything at all.”

It was the second tragedy Chris and his younger sister Louise had had to endure in a short space of time. Just four months earlier their father Robin had lost his battle with bowel cancer.

“Immediately after it happened it was like a bomb had gone off,” says Chris. “We were all trying to rally round, support each other and arrange the funeral, but after a few days I knew I needed to do something for my own mental health.

Former National Lottery-funded athlete Victoria Pendleton presented Chris with his award

“I was completely devastated. The one thing that got me through was running. It helped me realise that things were going to be OK.”

Chris found solace in the activity and kept up with his runs in the months after. But as the first anniversary of his mum’s passing approached, he knew he had to do something more to keep the pain at bay.

“I was absolutely dreading that day,” he remembers. “Losing someone is hard enough, but when it’s through suicide it’s especially difficult because you are aware of everything that went on on that particular day, and you wonder what you could have done differently.”

So Chris came up with an ambitious challenge in the days leading up to the date: he would run a 10k EVERY DAY for an entire month to raise money for two incredible good causes close to his heart.

And now Chris’s extraordinary fundraising efforts have seen him win the Sport category at the National Lottery Awards 2021.

The awards celebrate the inspirational people and projects who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding. By playing The National Lottery, you raise £30million for good causes every week.

Chris completed his mammoth challenge – but admits it was a gruelling effort. He recalls: “I’m not going to lie, the favourite part of the challenge was the last day, running that 28th 10k.

“I was glad that I’d managed to achieve everything that I had done, got a personal best while I’d done it and I’d raised and managed to get over the £20,000 mark just before I set off for that last run. So there was a great buzz around it.”

In the end, Chris raised more than £25,000 for two charities supported by funding from The National Lottery: Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) and Back Onside, which uses sporting activities to help people with mental health issues.

“If you’re really struggling, speak out,” adds Chris. “As soon as you do that, you can open up a whole new world where you can let things go and process things much easier. You don’t feel alone.

“I’m a wee bit embarrassed about the award because there’s so many people who do so many good things in the world,” says Chris.

“I’d give it all back in a second to have my mum back, but that can’t happen. It’s a really good platform to share my story.

“I think it’s really important to share the difficult times and how you get through them. You never know who that might help.”

Former National Lottery-funded athlete Victoria Pendleton travelled to Edinburgh to present Chris with his award. She said: “I have always been a strong believer that physical and mental health go hand in hand. I know myself how important sport is in dealing with the stresses that life throws at us. Chris is an outstanding example of harnessing the power of exercise to boost wellbeing.”

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