We need to talk says Tom Jones

11 November 2020
Tom jones holding a picture of his Dad

“When he took his own life my dad left a big hole in our lives”

A Traveller man from Hampshire has raised nearly eight thousand pounds in a 100 mile charity hike for the Samaritans in honour of his dad who took his own life.

Father of three Tom Jones’s, 34, charity hike took place earlier in the late summer earlier this year over the rolling hills of the South Downs from Winchester to Eastbourne.

 “My dad loved the outdoors and he was a charitable person. It just made sense to choose a mental health and suicide charity to raise money from my walk for,” says Tom.

“The Samaritans is for everybody and my dad was charitable to everyone and not just Travelling people.”

Tom had to battle through two storms in his six day hike and at times he says it was only “willpower” that kept him going. “The first storm was on the first day and everything got drenched,” says Tom. “This meant that the next day the blisters started. I was in real pain throughout the hike. I actually thought oat one point, its ok to give up. But I didn’t and willpower alone kept me going.”

Tom’s dad – also called Tom Jones – was well known among the Travelling community for his singing and performances at Traveller weddings up and down the country. Tom Jones was also popular among his local community for his charitable work and his “larger than life character,” says Tom.

Tom Jones appeared to have everything to live for. He was a popular, talented and generous man with a loving wife, four children and three grandchildren – and a “have a go hero” who received a top award for bravery from Hampshire’s Chief Constable when he intervened in a robbery. Yet mental health problems can happen to anyone, says Tom.

“My dad suffered with mental health issues for a number of years,” says Tom. “And then in 2016 him and my mum were in a local bank and there was an armed robbery and dad got shot in the face whilst wrestling one robber to the ground and then stabbed in the chest by the other robber.”

After his heroic bravery Tom’s dad was left with a bullet lodged near his brain, on medication, and with post-traumatic stress symptoms.

“Dad hit the bottle really hard,” says Tom. “We tried really hard to save him but he was on a downward spiral.”

Tom says that despite the hardships, his charity hike has brought healing.

“It was bit of therapy for myself to get out in the open and reconnect with myself a little bit because I haven’t had the chance to do that since my dad’s death,” says Tom.

“If the money I’ve raised can help saving other people’s lives and stop them going through the same pain that my family is still going through, then I’ve did my job.”

Mike Doherty/TT

Picture (P6 TOM JONES 1) Caption: Tom Jones with a photograph of his dad – also Tom Jones - with his grandchildren © Sue Thomas for Thomas Miller Ltd.