Jason Maxwell: Charity run brought back my interest in cricket

After raising £3238 in total for Action Mental Health through a two-day, 100km run around cricket grounds in the Northern Cricket Union, Jason Maxwell has found a new love and interest for the sport.

The 38-year-old was inspired to raise money having suffered from his own mental health issues throughout the majority of his adult life.

It came to a head last year when he didn’t leave his house for three months outside of going to work.

Anxiety was also an issue for Maxwell, who started receiving counselling after his mother booked an initial GP appointment last September and he has been on the road to recovery since then.

His own journey, which also included the death of childhood friend Darren last year, inspired him to start a fundraising effort to help those that have been in a similar situation to him, and he couldn’t be happier with how the event went and the support shown by the cricket community.

“I’m very, very happy with it,” he said.

“The girl from Action Mental Health said I was in the top 1% of solo people who have raised money for the charity.

“I definitely didn’t expect it because the highest I had ever played was one year at Section One, so it wasn’t like everybody would have knew who I was or anything.

“The likes of Muckamore donated £100, Drumaness, who I’ve always been friendly with donated a good bit, Dundrum got behind it. Saintfield really got behind it and I think they are sponsored by a guy who does talks about mental health with cricketers in England.

“Cooke Collegians were playing Cliftonville Academy that day and Bryan Milford was there and he did a speech and the guys really put their hands in their pockets.”

Maxwell with his two children during the summer.

Maxwell, who was quick to give thanks to Lawrence Moore for his help during a fundraising day in the North West, reflected on the two day event that saw him run a marathon on both Friday and Saturday while he took in the grounds and says the encouragement from people around the grounds kept him going.

“Friday I started at 8am and I finished at 10:30pm,” he added.

“It was starting to get tough at the final few grounds. I got to Lisburn and I was getting it tough and then I went to Waringstown, which was really easy for some reason!

“Then I went to Victoria and that was absolute hell. It was a nightmare and I struggled to get round it. It wasn’t pretty!  It was pitch black and I didn’t get to Laurelvale so I had to do that on Saturday.

“I got up in the morning and went to Bangor, and I was as stiff as a poker. I waddled around there and then waddled around Holywood. I headed to Dundrum and loosened up a bit.

“Dundrum and Ards were off for rain and I had some craic with them. I started getting it tight again at Downpatrick and the boys were giving me some abuse! They had came off for rain and they kept me going. It takes those wee bits of banter to keep you going.

“Cregagh were really good to me and their president was very pleasant. I got my photo taken with the boys and Mark Adair was there so I got my photo with him too. I remember playing against Holywood and Mark was 15 bowling at me and the ball was whistling past my nose!

“The Armagh boys were really good to me and I know the likes of Harry Doyle and Gareth McCarter and they gave me a nice donation and some craic. It went downhill from there and when I arrived at Lurgan the dew had started to come down and my feet ended up in bits.

“I did Laurelvale and Millpark in the pitch black and I had to walk around Millpark because of blisters on my feet. There was a wedding on in the house on the hill and in the final two laps the fireworks started going off, so I got my phone out and took a picture of that!”

The effort and energy exerted by Maxwell over those two days left him in the hospital a few days later after he fainted at his home.

“I ended up in A&E on the Tuesday night after fainting in the house,” he said.

“After I fainted, I got a bag of wine gums and a bottle of Lucozade Sport, and my dad is diabetic so mum did my sugars and it was still only at 2. The normal is 7-9 I think.

“Monday was fine and I went to work. Tuesday I needed to go home early because I was going up a ladder to take a stand down and I started getting dizzy. Tuesday and Wednesday was a total write off and my energy levels were in the dust.”

The process of getting fit for the challenge has now inspired him to keep exercising and he has started refereeing local football matches once again – his 8th year in total on the field.

Football has been an interest throughout his life having played for Donacloney and managed Lurgan Town’s reserve team, and he feels exercise can certainly help those suffering from mental health issues.

“It did help and I was out training with my mate Michael Patterson who does the refereeing with me and the appointments,” he said.

“He wasn’t as interested in doing the run with me, but he was keeping at me to keep going and he started on me to get refereeing again. I hadn’t much interest in going again, but I started again and I’ve done five games this season and I’m feeling good.

“Last week I got assessed and I was doing an Intermediate game so I’m really enjoying it.

“This is my eighth year but I’m still at junior level. If I had have passed a fitness test two years ago I would have got up to intermediate, but maybe in the near future.

“I wouldn’t mind to keep going and see where I end up. I only played up to junior level so it doesn’t really bother me.

Maxwell played for Millpark Cricket Club before their amalgamation with Donacloney in 2017, and he turned out for their 3rd XI on occasion last season.

While maybe not having the desire to play on the field any longer, Maxwell says the charity challenge has reignited a love for the game and he wants to give back to those that helped him so much.

“I was playing a bit last year and I don’t want to play anymore, but I wouldn’t mind going to watch or getting involved in another way,” he said.

“It’s brought back the interest of cricket to me with the way everybody got behind me. It definitely has made me want to give something back the other way.”

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