People turned out in their hundreds at The Venue in Park Hall on Sunday to show their support at a football tournament with a difference.

Luke Smith, of Active8 gym in Oswestry, organised a football tournament involving four teams in an attempt to raise awareness of the issue of mental health problems in and around the town.

Although there was a fun atmosphere among players and spectators on the day, there was a serious message to be delivered at the event.

Luke, a personal trainer, organised the tournament after seeing an increase in the number of men in the area taking their own lives.

He hoped the event would be able to shed a light on the issue in the area while raising some money for mental health charity Mind.

But what started off as a game between two gyms quickly became a four-team tournament, and the event prompted a huge response from the community.

Luke said it is an issue which needs a lot of attention, especially in the Oswestry area.

“Originally, this started as just a game between Active8 and Evolution, and it was just a bit of banter between the two gyms as well, while raising awareness at the same time,” he said.

“As we were planning it, another person sadly took their own life, so it grew into something bigger than the two gyms – we wanted to address this on a larger scale.

“I contacted Chirk Town to see if they wanted to get involved, and thankfully they’ve come down and supported the cause.

“Regarding future events I do think we could definitely do something again, with a little more time to prepare I think we could achieve something even bigger which would only help raise more awareness and money for Mind. It would be good to see more local mental health charity’s getting involved too offering their services.”

The charity Mind was selected for the event after Luke, and friends of his, knew several people who took their own lives earlier this year.

He hopes the event encourages more people to help raise awareness around the importance of mental health, and admits it has been a tough time to live in the area recently.

He said: “It’s been a hard place to live this year with a number of people taking their own lives and many more suffering with mental health illnesses.

“Two of the people who took their own lives this year were close friends of ours – and it isn’t just friends we’ve lost, it’s close friends other people have lost as well. It is clear it’s happening on a wider scale and there is a serious issue regarding mental health in and around Oswestry at the minute.

“We got together at the gym and thought about what we could do to help. As there’s an association between exercise and lowering the symptoms of depression, we thought we could give out free memberships to people who are suffering and try to raise awareness within the area with events like this today.

“There’s not a lot in Oswestry in terms of support. There are a couple of groups who offer support, but it is often the case that you have to be referred to them by a GP. We have to bear in mind that some people aren’t even comfortable talking about these things with their friends, let alone external groups.

“So, we thought an event like this would be great for raising awareness and hopefully encourage another mental health charity to help our area.

“We have had a lot of support from the community, local businesses and this is the result of it.

“It was organised in a nutshell to say, ‘enough is enough, what can we do to help?’”

After seeing such a positive reaction to the event, Luke hopes to organise more similar events in the future.

He continued to say how important he believes it to be to have more of a presence in the town which can offer support to those who need it.

“We’re talking about Oswestry, but right down the road we have Chirk, Gobowen and St Martins who are suffering from the same issue – the support they’ve all shown today confirms that,” he added.

“It’s a community, we’re not just one postcode, we’re several, and I think everyone getting together and showing their support shows how much of an issue it is at the minute.

“Everyone has the same mindset that we need to fix this.

“Mind have been absolutely brilliant overall supporting us. We’d like to follow up working with them after this event, I feel as though there is a market for them to get involved in Oswestry. I think the nearest one to Oswestry at the minute is Shrewsbury, I do feel as though our town is lacking with mental health services and it would be brilliant to see them here.

“If we can get more charities like them down here, that’s only going to help tackle this ongoing battle against mental health.”

Along with those playing football at the event and people watching on, Luke was keen to thank everyone else who helped out on the day by way of support and sponsorship.

He said: “I’d like to thank the sponsors of the event – we have Sol Distribution who donated a massive £1,000, KCS Trade who also donated £1,000 and LACE Carpentry who donated £500 as well. They’ve all donated massively, and it goes to show how passionate they are about beating depression.

“On top of that, I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported us and been involved by either playing or coming down to show their support today.

“I’d like to thank Zest Ladies Health and Fitness Club for completing a 12-hour spinathon to help raise money. I’d like to thank the team at The Venue for allowing us to use the facilities, thankfully the weather held off and people have been able to bring their families down. I’d like to thank The New Saints Foundation too for bringing their coaches down and helping to get the kids involved.

“It’s been great, and the community as a whole has been brilliant getting behind the event, hopefully we can do a lot more in the future to raise awareness for Mind charity and beat this problem with mental health in the area.”

To help and support through Mind visit or call 0300 123 3393.