South Yorkshire football fans embark on epic 55 mile walk in memory of man who died aged just 25

Friends of a young man who died aged just 25 after a battle with mental health problems are today embarking on an epic 55 mile sponsored walk for charity.

The group of about 40 mates are walking between Barnsley FC's Oakwell ground and Derby County's Pride Park Stadium - and they hope to arrive at their destination before the two teams play each other at 3pm tomorrow.

They said they are embarking on the trek in memory of former Barnsley Rugby Club player Ashley Salkeld, aged 25, of Bolton-on-Dearne, who died in October last year after a battle with mental health problems.

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The group has already raised more than £7500 towards a target of £14, 000 for the Campaign Against Living Miserably. More than 400 individual donations have been received.

In a statement, they said: "He was larger than life; the constant centre of attention everywhere he went and his wicked sense of humour was impossible not to laugh with, at and love.

"However, behind the joker was a broken lad that had personal battles linking to his mental health. His death came as a huge shock to people he loved – his family, partner and crowds of friends, who continually looked to Selly for a good time.

"Selly was the ultimate sportsman, who tried just about every sport going, and he was annoyingly good at everything! This is why we are determined to use sport as a vice, to get people talking and raise as much money as possible. Our initial aim is to raise £14,000 – a target based on Selly’s shirt number. This is to be distributed to between mental health charities like CALM and to promote and set up local initiatives."

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The group added that alongside fundraising they are intent on raising awareness of mental health problems.

The statement added: "Promoting mental health services, awareness and well-being is paramount. Since Selly left us, our incredibly masculine ex-mining community has come together like we have never seen before and lads have started to talk.

"Although mental health services exist in our town, what needs to be encouraged is something incredibly simple. Being frank, open and honest about mental health will help so many in need, who are being strong yet silent."

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