The Oxford Fanatics group have brought new colour to the stadium this season, including arranging the stunning surfer flag in memory of Joey Beauchamp. Now they have set their sights on raising £3,500, to share between Joey’s family and Oxfordshire Mind.
Fanatic Joe Nicholls is half way through his challenge of completing eleven 7k runs, culminating with the Blenheim 7k on 15th May. As a teenager, Joe saw Joey play and idolised him, and having had his own mental health struggles he feels personally motivated to meet this challenge. Joe has had to overcome other hurdles in preparing for this, not least getting Covid, which affected his breathing and means he is now attempting the runs over two weeks rather than a month.
Joe sees this challenge as a way to bring together the whole Oxford United community, which is supporting him on his runs. His two children, Jack (11) and George (5) accompanied him on his first run, Oxford United staff, members of the Fanatics and Oxford United Supporters Panel are also participating, and former players James Constable and Paul Moody have run alongside Joe this week.
Joe says: “As a dad, I am devastated for Joey's daughters. My sons are of similar ages and this is what is driving me on. Mental health issues have affected me my whole life and without the support of Oxfordshire Mind, I wouldn't be where I am today and quite possibly wouldn't be here at all. I am devastated that Joey couldn’t see any other option. I want to help Oxfordshire Mind to be able to support more people and for this challenge to raise awareness and to help people understand that someone is always there and life can turn around.
"I have battled through severe bouts of depression, and anxiety is something I struggle with every day. I am now in a good place in my life, having gone from being a supported member of the workforce, to a support worker helping those who have gone, or are going through, difficult times. I know that Oxfordshire Mind does so much to help those in need, and doing the eleven 7ks is my way of giving something back to them and helping provide for Joey’s daughters.”
Joe Mercer, of the Fanatics, said “Since we started the Fanatics midway through the season we have been blown away by the support from Oxford United and the Yellow Army. The Joey Beauchamp tribute at the Cambridge game was down to the spirit and generosity of our fanbase and the wider Oxfordshire football community. We felt it was right to do more to support mental health in Oxfordshire and to give Joey Beauchamp's daughters something to show how much their dad is adored by Oxford United fans. He is, and always will be in our hearts.”
Joe and the Fanatics would welcome your support to achieve this fundraising target. You can find details on the GoFundMe page https://gofund.me/9972b003