Saltford tennis tournament in memory of Russell

SADLY, ten years ago in March 2013, Saltford Lawn Tennis Club lost Russell Simmons to suicide.

He was a great player, coach, friend and valued member of the club. On Sunday September 10, on World Suicide Prevention Day, the club held the “Creating Hope Through Action Tournament” in memory of Russell, to raise awareness and to raise funds for Suicide Prevention-UK.

Eighteen participants – consisting of players Russ had coached, his friends and Saltford LTC league players – took to the courts for a men’s doubles round robin competition.

The top two teams went on to play a closely fought and entertaining final. James Meredith and Elliot Jones were victorious against Joe Mason and Tom Griffith. The players were cheered on by a crowd of Russell’s parents, family, friends, ex-coaches and tennis club members, creating a great atmosphere.

A vast range of baked goods had been donated by club members to help raise funds. These included some amazing Romanian pastries donated by one of the club’s new members, Marina (@patisserie.marina.2023).

After raising a toast of Lucozade to Russell, (his favourite drink), prizes donated by Saltford LTC were awarded, and Russ’s father David presented the trophy to the winners.

Many of the spectators and competitors had travelled from London, Worcester, Wales, Gloucester and even New Zealand, so no excuse was needed after the event for a visit to the Saltford Sports Club bar next door to renew acquaintances.

A huge thank-you goes to Russell’s inspiring and caring parents, Jan and David, for giving their blessing for the event. So far, over £700 has been raised.

One statistic highlighted at the event was that suicide is a leading cause of death in the UK for those aged 10 to 19 year.

This has to change. We need to support suicide prevention charities and create a safe and caring environment of hope, so people can realise it is OK to be not OK.

If you are suffering from suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone or call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652. It is open from 6pm to 3.30am every day.