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Man joins Newport 100 Club to run in memory of twin brother

A PLASTERER from Bristol will be running the ABP Newport 10K in memory of his twin brother who sadly took his own life in September.

Gary Stretton, who has been trying to stay positive since the tragedy, says he used to enjoy running and cycling with his brother Steve.

Gary and Steve cycling (Gary left)

He’s not only taking on the event on Sunday 28th April in Steve’s memory but hopes that in doing so he can help raise awareness of mental health issues too.

The 42-year-old said: “On the 16th September 2023 Steve took his own life and it seems both like a lifetime ago and that it only happened yesterday.

“We didn’t know what was wrong with Steve. While he had spent some time in a mental health unit, he functioned as normal 99% of the time. He wasn’t depressed but he let things get into his head. That’s sadly what happened that day.”

Steve was found by police who performed CPR, but nothing could be done to save him. His family stayed by his side in hospital until he died.

Gary said, “We were thankful we could be with him and hold his hand but to witness that wasn’t easy.”

Steve hiking

Gary and Steve were identical twins and spoke every day.

The father-of-two said, “While I have my wife, sisters, my mum, Wendy, and a lot of close friends, I still feel very lonely without Steve. It’s difficult to explain because you’re used to having someone with you your whole life and then all of a sudden they’re gone.

“If either of us had a problem we’d always chat to each other about it – you knew there was someone there for you no matter what, so that’s been really difficult.”

Since Steve passed away, Gary has said he’s tried to remove the stressors in his life and doesn’t take anything for granted.

He said, “I’m just doing my best and trying to keep positive. I used to have a lot of stress but since Steve died it’s spurred me on to reassess things and I have so much more gratitude now. There are days when I haven’t wanted to do something, but I’ve forced myself to do them and I’m so thankful that I’m here to do that.”

He’s also joined Run 4 Wales’ 100 Club to take on the ABP Newport 10K. This is the first time Run 4 Wales has set up the 100 Club in Newport, after several successful years of running it for the Principality Cardiff Half Marathon.

Through the club, Run 4 Wales gifts 100 free spaces to half marathon and 10K distances to help people improve their health and wellbeing.

Gary and Steve at a wedding

Gary said, “I wanted to join the 100 Club as thought it would be a nice thing to do for my own health and also a great opportunity to talk about Steve. I want to do more for people to remember Steve and hopefully in talking about him it might help someone else.

“People are now speaking more about mental health but I still think there is a stigma attached and they can get judged for being selfish or ‘giving up’. But it’s not as simple as that. We don’t judge someone who dies of cancer and people don’t understand the brain can get unwell and it can be a lot more complex than it appears, leading to people doing things they wouldn’t normally do.”

Matt Newman, Chief Executive at Run 4 Wales, said, “We’ve been putting on the 100 Club at the Principality Cardiff Half Marathon since 2015 which has encouraged so many more people to take up running who otherwise may not have participated.

“We want to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to get active, make healthy lifestyle changes and take part in our events, which is why we’ve brought the 100 Club to the ABP Newport Marathon Festival for our half marathon and 10K races.

“Gary has been through something immensely tough, and we hope this will help him share Steve’s story and raise awareness of mental health. We’re so pleased to have him as part of the club.”

For more information about the ABP Newport Marathon Festival visit: newportwalesmarathon.co.uk/