Wānaka builder Glen Thurston has been busy over the summer.
The mental health advocate, who launched the ‘Turn the Corner’ initiative has been climbing Corner Peak 53 times over a 53-day period to raise awareness for mental health. On day 42, he was joined by a Police team.
The number of climbs up the challenging peak is to match the 53 annual deaths from suicide in the construction industry since 2017.
When Wānaka Community Constable Deane Harbison learned of Glen’s impressive undertaking, he reached out to support.
“Promoting positive mental health is a huge element of our work within New Zealand Police, so I was really keen to get behind the kaupapa of Glen’s Turn the Corner campaign,” says Deane.
“So what better way to do that than by joining him for one of his climbs up Corner Peak?”
Deane put the word out to his fellow Wānaka staff and was joined by Constables Leighton McRitchie, Bruce McLean and Kieran Reeve, Station Support Officer Kate Mackenzie-Smith, recruit Stuart King, as well as former constable Aubury Martin.
Despite the number of consecutive climbs Glen is undertaking, Corner Peak is not the easiest hike. The Wānaka staff met their first hurdle with the starting time of the climb.
“We had to kick off at 4.30am to beat the heat,” says Deane. “After that early start it’s a 17km trip with a vertical gain around 1700 metres.”
Glen Thurston (third from right) and some of his supporters from the Police team.
The Wānaka crew thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Making it that much easier was Glen’s inspirational attitude and massive effort to do it 53 times.
It was also beneficial for the team to spend time talking with Glen about his own experiences with mental health, and his struggles with the system.
“It was great getting his perspective,” says Deane. “It also gave us the chance to share our own experiences in responding to mental health jobs and the impacts that being a police officer has on our own mental health.”
The only unfortunate part of the climb was the foggy white-out at the summit, which made a dramatic peak-top photo an impossibility.
There was time to document the journey along the way though, and Glen shared the images with his many social media followers, along with some words about how much he appreciated Deane and the team’s support on day 42 of his 53-day slog.
“Today I was joined by the team at the Wānaka Police," he posted.
"I have huge respect for the work these guys and girls do for the community… These amazing people of our community have seen things that most of us could never imagine.
"Thanks for all that you do and for your ongoing commitment to serve in our community and keep us all safe.”