Teacher raises £50K to battle illness in memory of late wife

Richard (fourth from left) and his team <i>(Image: Action on Postpartum Psychosis)</i>
Richard (fourth from left) and his team (Image: Action on Postpartum Psychosis)

A Witney primary school teacher has raised £50,000 in memory of his late wife Alex, who died last year.

Richard Baish completed an 475-mile bike ride in just five days with the support of a team of friends in a bid to raise the money for national charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP).

He started his ride in Balloch, near Glasgow, in late May, and travelled all the way to his hometown of Witney visiting significant locations en route including Leeds University, where Alex studied, and Dodford Manor, where they married.

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Postpartum psychosis (PP) is a severe postnatal mental illness that claimed the life of Richard’s wife, Alex, in September 2022.

As he and his family had never heard of PP before they were affected by it, his aim was to ensure healthcare professionals and parents-to-be are made aware of the signs, symptoms and risks of the illness.

With a toddler and a newborn baby to look after, as well as coping with the immense shock and grief of losing his partner, Richard gave himself a huge target of raising £50,000 for APP.

Mr Baish said: “I found out the hard way just how destructive PP can be.

"My advice for anyone who’s going through birth, either as a mum, dad, friend or family member, is to keep talking - whether it’s sharing good feelings or bad with each other or with professionals.

"Talking has helped me so much in my grieving process and it can help prevent the worst-case scenario.

"Postpartum psychosis is an awful illness but a treatable one. APP has supported me immensely in the last few months, and I know they share my passion to help save as many lives as possible through awareness of what to do and where to go for help.”

PP affects around 1,400 women and families every year in the UK, and around 140,000 worldwide, and occurs in the hours, days, and early weeks after giving birth.

It often occurs in women with no prior mental health problems, but women with experience of bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of developing it.

The funds will be put towards raising awareness of postpartum psychosis amongst frontline health professionals and an education campaign to encourage discussion of postpartum psychosis symptoms in antenatal classes.

APP has already used some of the funds to develop and launch an educational toolkit for antenatal educators

Dr Jess Heron, chief executive of Action on Postpartum Psychosis, said: “There are no words to describe how grateful we are for the efforts put in by Richard, his friends and family.

"His fundraising has raised an enormous amount of awareness, with thousands of individual donors, and tens of thousands of people watching his campaign video.

"APP shares Richard’s mission of stopping women dying from this treatable illness."