Neil shares story of recovery to inspire others with love of nature

Neil Lathrope is hoping to secure additional support for the Great Massingham Bio-Diversity Project,

Neil Lathrope is hoping to secure additional support for the Great Massingham Bio-Diversity Project, after nature help him through his mental health struggles - Credit: Neil Lathrope

After suffering a stroke 10 years ago, Neil Lathrope fell into despair.

The 50-year-old was living in South-East London, and in a wheelchair at the time - but he and his wife decided to get a dog, to inspire him to get out of the house and build his strength up.

The couple would holiday in Norfolk, particularly in Great Massingham, and they loved it so much that they decided to move to the area in 2022.

Neil Lathrope and his cockerpoo Sadie Jean enjoying the Great Massingham Bio-Diversity Project.

Neil Lathrope and his cockapoo Sadie Jean enjoying the Great Massingham Bio-Diversity Project. - Credit: Neil Lathrope

Mr Lathrope wanted to throw himself into village life and decided to volunteer for the village’s Biodiversity project.

The group of volunteers maintain School Pond and the adjacent green, located 50 yards from his home - preserving wildlife and plants for people.

The group is holding an open day to promote the work it has done over the last year on July 23.

Neil Lathrope and his cockerpoo Sadie Jean enjoying the Great Massingham Bio-Diversity Project.

Neil Lathrope and his cockapoo Sadie Jean enjoying the Great Massingham Bio-Diversity Project. - Credit: Neil Lathrope

He is trying his best to find support, either through donations, or sponsorship, as the outdoor space helped him when he was suffering.

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“I wanted to end my life. I was a man's man so you don’t talk about your feelings or struggles," Mr Lathrope said.

"I found getting out and about, that was a huge help and to enjoy the nature around us.

“Taking your dog for a walk around the pond, and watching a duck dip their head under water to get some food, and seeing birds overhead, and fish swimming in the water, and being outside is such a huge help.

“Looking at something like this can change your whole outlook, I know it did for me, and I want to share that with other people going through it.

“I want to tell local communities that this is on your doorstep, make use of it, and the importance of maintaining a natural environment.”

Neil Lathrope and his cockerpoo Sadie Jean enjoying the Great Massingham Bio-Diversity Project.

Neil Lathrope and his cockapoo Sadie Jean enjoying the Great Massingham Bio-Diversity Project. - Credit: Neil Lathrope

The volunteer is now looking for support, whether in the form of sponsorship or donations for the project, which was established in 2011 following a successful application to the Lottery Fund for financial support.

The band of volunteers has predominantly relied on local businesses for monies and products in order to maintain the upkeep of the site.

The free open day will be held on Saturday, July 23 and feature an array of activities, including moth trapping and a bat session.

If you need help and support, call NHS 111 and select option 2 or the Samaritans on 113 123.

Both services are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. 

You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple and Android.