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Charity Director: John Bell

In July 2020, John became a bereaved parent through the accidental suicide of his 15 year old son, Jake. He coped with the mental trauma of this experience by taking time out alone in the mountains, using his army training to push himself physically, in an effort to balance the psychological storms he endured. In this way John was able to build up his resilience and find a new place of peace; an approach which he is passionate about sharing with others. 


To this end, in 2023, he and Chris, our Chair of Trustees, co-founded Walking 4 Hope with family members and friends so that others in similar situations could discover these coping strategies and ways of being for themselves. 


John treasures the love he will always have in his heart for Jake; this gives him the drive to do all in his power to be alongside young people, families and bereaved parents who are all contending with their own struggles, helping them to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors and building their own resilience through nature. 


You can read a fuller account of these experiences in a letter from John here

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Chairman to the board of trustees: Chris Atkinson

Chris lives in Nottingham and is married to Katie; they have two young children; Martha and George. Chris works from home for a large IT organisation as an Account Director.


Chris lost his son Jacob, 16, to suicide in 2019. Since that day he has been on a spiritual journey to heal himself for the good of himself and his family. Chris is passionate about helping others who find themselves, or loved ones in mental health crisis. Chris believes Walking 4 Hope can make a real impact on the lives of young people at risk of mental health crisis, by providing an environment that encourages connection with nature, exercise, and open discussion about difficult feelings and experiences.

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Deputy Chairman to the board of trustees: David Miller

After a short career in telecommunications as an engineer, David spent 25 years in local church ministry with the United Reformed Church, first in Peterborough and then North Staffordshire. He is married to Shirley and has four children and two step children, all grown up, with whom he enjoys spending time. He continues to work with churches in Derbyshire in a voluntary capacity, regularly helps out at local falconry centre and has experience as a facilitator for Andy's Man Club, a peer to peer support group encouraging good mental health. He has an interest in up-cycling small items of furniture and enjoys DIY. Dave is an enthusiastic supporter of Walking 4 Hope acting as a trustee, and playing a part in supporting many of the charity's activities.

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Secretary to the board of trustees: Shirley Miller

Shirley worked in business for over 25 years, before leaving to train for church ministry in the United Reformed Church.  For 14 years she served churches in Sheffield, Stone & Stafford, and finally in North Staffordshire with David, after their marriage.  She enjoys time spent with their family of six and serves as a governor at Northfield Primary & Nursery School, where she regularly visits to listen to Year 3 children read.  Since retiring from church ministry Shirley works as a Pastoral Supervisor on an ad hoc basis, and is the minute-taker for the United Reformed Church Moderators’ monthly meetings.  She enjoys keeping fit, gardening, Pilates and learning to play the piano. As a trustee and secretary for Walking 4 Hope Shirley enjoys spending time with the ‘Let’s Be There’ support group and with John on walks.

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Trustee: Jo Bell

Jo is married to John and spent 13 years as a primary teacher; she now works as a freelance mural artist. Prompted by a specific incident where she allowed troubled children to refocus on art and creativity, and with her experience as a wife and a mum, she recognises the vital importance of building up wellbeing and resilience in young people, and has developed strategies using creative activities to diffuse disruptive behaviour and encourage confidence and pride. After the tragic death of her stepson Jake, Jo recognised anew the vital importance of this approach to improve the mental health of children coping with trauma. Jo is passionate about her involvement with Walking 4 Hope, including a variety of art therapy and creative activities which she is proud to say will have an immediate positive impact on many people and families.

Trustee: Jennifer Holding
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