The charity mission of a grieving sister

Jonathan Rhead with Leanne's daughter Niamh
Jonathan Rhead with Leanne's daughter Niamh

A Wigan mum-of-one has become the latest patron of Leigh-based charity Compassion in Action following the tragic death of her brother.

Jonathan Rhead, described as “everyone’s friend,” had been living with bi-polar disorder for a decade when he took his own life in December last year.

Beverley Rhead, Leanne Rhead, Tina Hay and Louise Carney

Beverley Rhead, Leanne Rhead, Tina Hay and Louise Carney

He was aged just 35.

His grieving sister Leanne Rhead says the loss has inspired her to support a borough-based organisation which, among other things, helps the bereaved.

She says that her brother had a massive personality, was the life and soul of the party and was full of fun.

Standish-born Jonathan’s ill health is thought to have been triggered by the death of a close friend.

He sought help and managed his condition successfully for many years while living and working in the Middle East and Far East.

However, when he stopped taking his medication because he was feeling better, he became unwell again and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Jonathan was hospitalised in November 2014 for eight months and then moved into sheltered accommodation in July 2015.

He took his own life five months later.

“While I was coming to terms with the loss of my brother, I heard about Compassion in Action’s new wellbeing centre that supports people struggling with their mental health,” said Leanne, who herself lives in Standish.

“I arranged to visit Pam Gilligan, chief executive officer and founder of the charity.

“I loved CIA as soon as I walked through the door.

“I feel proud to be patron and I am looking forward to fund-raising events.”

Leanne’s first money-spinner for the charity will be the gruelling race “Tough Mudder”, in which she is participating along with her family and friends.

“I only have three months to train, but I am looking forward to the challenge,” added the 39-year-old.

“My hope is that it will raise awareness and other families will not have to experience the trauma we have been through.”

Leanne is also organising a fashion show this September in aid of the charity, and is feeling positive that something good can come from the family’s devastating experience.

Compassion in Action’s Haven House opened in January 2016 and has supported 95 people who were in need of emotional support to prevent possible crisis.

“Our vision is to provide a safe, non-clinical and relaxing environment,” said Pam.

“Our aim is to prevent crisis, stabilise emotional health and empower individuals to achieve their goals.

“We work creatively, flexibly and inclusively to improve mental health in the very heart of our community.”

To contact Compassion in Action’s wellbeing centre, located on Leigh Road, Leigh, telephone 01942 418830.

Other local mental health services include your GP and 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s 24 Hour Assessment Team (01942 482239).

Compassion in Action, which helps residents across the borough by providing hampers, clothing and furniture, was in 2014 honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which has the equivalent status to an MBE.