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Family and friends talk about coping and fundraising in memory of 19-year-old

After 19-year-old Ethan Nutton passed away unexpectedly, family and friends found that talking together was a way to cope with the difficult and unpredictable days, weeks and months which followed.

Mum Mandie, dad Damian and sister Ellie found support from each other and those around them.

Mandie says: “We sat as a family each night talking it through. It’s very easy to go into your room. I think it was that openness that helped us as a family.

“Talking, as a family, we will get through it.”

Special support came from the Nutton family’s neighbours and close friends, Kelly and Richard Miller, sons Kian and Cj.

The families have always spent a lot of time together, and their discussions in the weeks after Ethan took his own life in September 2019 featured forthcoming family events, including what would have been his 20th birthday the following January.

“We thought: let’s get something positive out of that. We decided that by the anniversary of Ethan’s death in September we would raise £10,000,” Mandie remembers.

She adds: “As a family the fundraising has given us a focus. It has helped us massively. “For us, it has kept us going and given us something else to think about.”

For Ethan’s birthday in January, Kian and Ellie organised everything. They held an event at Elland Cricket Club, people paid for their seats and it was sold out.

Mandie says: “It was unbelievable the donations we had for the raffle, and there were a few big items, so we had a mini-auction. And that first night we raised £7,500.

“Ellie surprised us. She’s a very strong young woman. She was 16 in the December so that was a hard few months for us.” A comedy and curry night and a ladies’ night were planned. During lockdown, with events postponed, and Kelly’s spare room still full of donated prizes, the families organised online raffles, putting together hampers of the donated items.

Mandie also ran 50k in May and Damian climbed Mount Snowdon in August. When they hit the £10,000 total, Mandie couldn’t believe it. “We went to bed on the Friday night and someone messaged us on the Saturday morning and said: you have done it!” she says.

Despite lockdown, they raised £20,000 by September. They then decided to aim for £21,000 in honour of Ethan’s 21st birthday in January. In total, £21,255 has now been raised in his memory.

The family had wanted to fundraise for a local mental health service which offered support to all. “It was really interesting visiting Mind in Bradford to see what they do and what goes on in all the different rooms and spaces,” Mandie says. Ethan had struggled with his mental health for about 18 months before his death in September 2019. Mandie says: “We battled along with him.

“We never thought he would get to the point he did. He disappeared a lot. He self-harmed a few times but it was more superficial. September was quite a shock.”

The family believe having Mind in Bradford information at the fundraising events was a chance for people to talk about mental health, too. “A few people come to us and said that they have struggled and we would never have guessed,” Mandie says.

“More people talk to each other. With the number of young men taking their own lives, people are more aware of it now. Ethan didn’t always want to talk.”

And the transition to adult services at 18 is difficult for families, Mandie says. “Once he was 18, because he was now an adult, we weren’t told anything. I was banging my head against a brick wall. It’s so hard for parents, they have an emotional attachment, it isn’t just a job. “As much as they’re classed as adults in mental health services, they have gone from being children to adults more or less overnight. It’s confusing for them. We would ask ourselves what do we do?”

Kelly adds: “I fundraise quite a lot but this has been very different for us all. Ethan was a huge part of our family. We live across the road and we did and still do everything together, holidays, birthdays, you name it. We miss Ethan dearly and if we can help other people then we will continue to do so for as long as we can.”

Posted on: 26th February 2021