Ambassador head




Ambassadors
Could you be one of our Ambassadors?

 

As part of the John O’Halloran Initiative, LionHeart has recruited 'ambassadors' to help us drive forward the mental health awareness message within the workplace, and at property sector events.

 

Our ambassadors are RICS professionals who have experience of mental ill health either personally or through a close relative or friend. They have all agreed to bravely share their experiences in the hope it will break down the stigma often attached to mental health issues, and maybe encourage others to speak out or seek support if they need it. 


Our Ambassadors                                                                                                        



Dave Vernon_renamed_24544
Alan Burke

Alan started his career in the management consultancy arm of Price Waterhouse Chesterton in Edinburgh and London before moving to Manchester to join Chesterton plc. After several years as director of consulting, he joined national regeneration agency English Partnerships before moving into the development sector. 

He now runs his own consulting business specialising in development and regeneration across north-west England.

In 2015 Alan suffered a severe episode of depression, which he describes as "a rather spectacular blowout" that forced him to step back from the workplace to concentrate on his mental health. 

Now on a path to recovery, he says he hopes to help others suffering or at risk of suffering depression "hopefully before it has a debilitating effect on their lives".



Dave Vernon_renamed_24544James Crawford

James Crawford started his career in South Africa in 1985 before moving to the City in London to work for the likes of Weatherall Green & Smith, Jones Lang Wootton and then several years at Savills, where he specialised in multi-million pound commercial acquisitions and sales.

He developed severe depression, which he describes “the most desperate period I have ever experienced”, and says: “After a relatively high-profile career in the City I went from being a highly paid investment agent to nothing in a matter of months. Simply existing was the goal.”

He became an ambassador to “highlight the risk we all run in our frantic lives”, and says he hopes sharing his story may encourage other professionals to seek help before they hit rock bottom. 



Dave Vernon_renamed_24544Kirsty Harvey

Kirsty is founder/ director of KTD Surveying, a consultancy specialising in commercial landlord/tenant issues. She previously worked for organisations including A S Watson, National Mutual and First Quench as an estate manager, and has over 25 years of experience in the property industry.

Kirsty has first-hand experience of how mental health issues can affect surveyors, and how the culture and environment of the workplace can both contribute to poor mental health - or prevent it.

After the inaugural RICS Diversity and Inclusion Conference she was inspired to speak out about her experiences of dealing with anxiety, stress and depression, and decided to become a LionHeart mental health ambassador to help raise awareness among industry colleagues.

She says: “The more people talk, it becomes less of a stigma. I hope my story makes others realise they are not alone.”

Read Kirsty's Story: Living with panic attacks 



Dave Vernon_renamed_24544David Sherborn-Hoare

David Sherborn-Hoare built up a practice with 4 offices and 30+ staff with a turnover of £1.5m after starting out from the spare bedroom of his home. He held a number of honorary positions with the RICS, played rugby, lectured at the Royal Agricultural College and described himself as “the life and soul of the party”.

But a secret lack of confidence in his own abilities drove him to work intensely. His marriage ended acrimoniously and he says: “Eventually one Saturday morning while sitting at my kitchen table I found I could not get up. 

"I had in a literal sense broken down.”

After eventually receiving therapy, he later trained as a psychotherapist himself. He now has a private clinical practice and also advises businesses.

He says: “My advice to any business is to have policies and practices that involved informed psychological support. I promise in your business there will be people like me and others with different but nonetheless affected states of mind.”   



Dave Vernon_renamed_24544Dave Vernon

Dave started working on building sites at the age of 16 before joining the Royal Navy, where he saw action in the Balkans in the mid 1990s. After leaving the armed forces he returned to the construction industry, went to university and became a member of the RICS in 2009.

He says: “I had a full life riding fast motorbikes, coaching rugby, and delivering very successful projects. 

"Then depression hit in 2014, completely out of the blue but for a very specific reason, which had nothing to do with work.”

After seeking help, he says he is now happier than he has ever been but adds: “I now understand that mental illness can strike anybody at any time for any reason - or maybe no reason at all.” 


The role of the ambassador

Our aim is for our ambassadors to help us start a conversation about mental health and break down stigmas around seeking support. This might include talking about your own experiences to help raise awareness of mental health issues or the importance of having the right help in the workplace, and help to share guidance and information provided by LionHeart.
 

To find out more, or for an informal chat about becoming an ambassador, please contact Jo Grant, Mental Health Project Co-ordinator at jgrant@lionheart.org.uk 


Helpline 0845 6039057