Three Dads Walking Crisis Comforts

April 19, 2024. Series 7. Episode 86

As regular listeners and viewers will know, at the end of all our conversations we ask our guests for their three crisis comforts; their go-tos for inspiration and strength during the challenging times. Short but perfectly formed advice for getting you through the tough moments.

Over the years we have heard some incredibly interesting and more importantly, useful tips for anyone who might be feeling the weight of their own problems.

In this short episode – Three Dads Walking – a trio of remarkable men who connected over the loss of their daughters, Sophie, Beth and Emily, to suicide, share their three crisis comforts.

Please remember – if you, or anyone you know is having or have had suicidal thoughts, you can reach out to Papyrus UK suicide prevention on 0800 068 4141.


Full episode:



Three Dads Walking: 300 Miles of Hope:

3 Dads Walking


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Host – Andy Coulson

CWC team: Jane Sankey, Louise Difford, Zach Ellis and Mabel Pickering

With special thanks to Ioana Barbu and the brilliant people at Global

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Full transcript:

Andy Coulson:                   [0:00:05] Hello. I’m Andy Coulson and welcome back to Crisis What Crisis and another Crisis Comforts episode. Short but perfectly formed advice for getting you through the tough times.

As regular listeners will know, at the end of our conversations we ask all our guests for their three Crisis Comforts, their go-tos for inspiration and strength during the challenging times. And over the years we have accumulated some incredibly interesting and much more importantly useful tips for anyone who might be feeling the weight of their own problems.

I’ve just had a conversation with three extraordinary men, Andy, Mike and Tim, brought together by the tragic loss of their daughters who each took their own lives. The Three Dads Walking, as they are better known, have taken their collective grief on the road up and down the country in order to raise awareness around the often taboo subject of young suicide.

It was a difficult but I think very important conversation and I’m sure, like me, you will be moved by the sheer courage of these, as I say, ordinary guys who have done something truly extraordinary.

If you want to support them you can do so. Just go to our notes for links, and do please listen to the full conversation if you can. An din the meantime, if you’re short on time you can listen now to their three Crisis Comforts in this quick taster.

And remember, if you or anyone you know is having or has had suicidal thoughts, you can reach out to Papyrus, the charity that these guys support, on 0800 068 4141. Many thanks for listening.

[0:01:30] Before you go, I’d like to ask you all for your Crisis Comforts. So we can do this the long way or we can do this the short way, it is entirely up to you. But what we ask our guests to do is give us three things that they sort of lean on in those difficult moments. Can’t be another person, I’m afraid. Anything other than another person.

But you can either have one each or you can have three each. I’m all for the long version, I have to tell you, but I’ve taken up a lot of your time today so up to you.

Andy Airey:                        [0:02:00] Three each?

Andy Coulson:                   [0:02:03] What are the things that you sort of lean towards?

Andy Airey:                        [0:02:08] The first one for me is definitely getting outside. Living in the area that I live in Cumbria, yes, be outside.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:02:17] I’m sorry Andy, I’m going to take the walk as a given. This book is called Three Dads Walking. I’m not letting you have walking.

Andy Airey:                        [0:02:23] But it’s what I do, I do. But it is, it’s a fantastic thing to be able to do, just to get out in the outdoors. And being out in the green verdant countryside, which hopefully we’ll soon get in the spring, is incredibly powerful.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:02:38] You’re about to embark on the next walk, right?

Andy Airey:                        [0:02:40] Yes.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:02:41] So from where, 500 miles I think?

Mike Palmer:                     [0:02:44] 17th April, I have got the right day haven’t I?

Tim Owen:                         [0:02:47] Sterling to Norwich, kind of through a load of the new offices Papyrus has opened. When we first walked they’d got five offices or hubs, they’ve now got eighteen or nineteen. So we’re just trying to highlight.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:02:58] Amazing. In large part due to your efforts. And the helpline, or the hopeline as it’s rather brilliantly called-

Mike Palmer:                     [0:03:03] Hopeline 247.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:03:03] Is now 24/7, whereas it used to just be- yes.

Okay, so getting outdoors. It can be a particular book?

Andy Airey:                        [0:03:15] No, it’s not. It is people. People are phenomenally important. I know that’s against your rules.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:03:23] But you’re going to have it as a generic rather than a specific person.

Andy Airey:                        [0:03:27] Yes, no it is. There’s just the need to be able- that realisation that help is out there. And it is out there, whether it’s with your friends or family, somehow if you are in a period of crisis you’ve got to be able to reach out. You’ve got to be able to reach out. Whether it’s to something professional or somebody you know. So there’s two.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:03:54] Has work been a comfort for the three of you?

Andy Airey:                        [0:03:58] Yes it has, it’s been a distraction, it’s taken up time, which you know, I had five months off after losing Em but then after that-

Andy Coulson:                   [0:04:07] We should explain that you’re in the Air Force.

Andy Airey:                        [0:04:07] Yes. So I had five months off. They were absolutely superb, my colleagues were superb. And then coming back to work and kind of the normality of work if you like has been brilliant. I wouldn’t say it’s a comfort in crisis but it’s a thing that I do.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:04:26] You were shaking your head.

Mike Palmer:                     [0:04:26] I’m shaking my head because I was unable to go back to work properly. I did try. I was diagnosed with PTSD after Beth, and it was right, it was a correct diagnosis. Work were incredibly supportive but they didn’t have a manual of how to deal with me in my grief. I was changed very much in character, my tolerances, aspects of the job as well.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:04:56] And you were a fireman working at-

Mike Palmer:                     [0:05:00] I was a firefighter, yes. So yes, so no it wasn’t, but they were extremely supportive. So, yes.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:05:09] Let’s get back to the comforts. We’re going to do- just jump in rather than- just jump in.

Tim Owen:                         [0:05:16] So, Cornwall for us. For me in particular, I love Cornwall, always go down there in the summer hols and stuff. Em was scattered down there and we’ve got a little bench on the Roseland Peninsula down there for Em, on some National Trust headland, St Anthony’s Head, near there. And so Cornwall has been- it was such a positive part of Em’s life, it was where she was happy. I’ve always been happy down there, so Cornwall.

And if we’re sticking with Cornwall and stuff, you know, fudge or something like that. Am I allowed to say that? That’s [inaudible 0:05:48] cholesterol diet isn’t it?

But yes, the whole Cornwall thing for me is a happy place, it’s a good place. Really, really good memories.

Mike Palmer:                     [0:05:56] I’m known as the Manchester Dad but I have actually moved to Anglesey now, a beautiful place called Cemaes Bay. And I’ve moved there basically because it’s by the sea, you have the countryside, and it’s stunningly beautiful. But being outside, walking, and I’ll throw another comfort in now. My small dog. Twelve years old.

Andy Airey:                        [0:06:17] Monty, yes.

Mike Palmer:                     [0:06:17] Yes, a Jack Russell poodle cross.

Andy Airey:                        [0:06:21] What a star.

Mike Palmer:                     [0:06:22] Yes, a bit of a slightly dodgy temperament.

Andy Airey:                        [0:06:25] Slightly dodgy.

Mike Palmer:                     [0:06:25] Slightly dodgy temperament. But yes, those things are a great comfort.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:06:30] Our animals are very important.

Mike Palmer:                     [0:06:32] That’s it, hugely important. Hugely important. He’s been, since losing Beth he’s been an absolute constant there.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:06:40] You describe in the book how he’s the one who actually is getting you up and getting out in those early days.

Mike Palmer:                     [0:06:44] He did. I had to. He’s got some terrible habits, he smells a bit dodgy sometimes, you know. He’d always be that dog who would be sliding along on his backside if we’re filming, but you know, he’s a huge comfort.

But I’ve got two in there, haven’t I. Anglesey. Actually I could go open water swimming as well is another one. There’s the wonderful Cemaes Bay Swimmers there, and I’ve ended up going out with them sometimes, even during the winter. But there is something about that. It does awake something within you.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:07:18] Well again we haven’t touched on it, perhaps for another time, but you’ve also, you know, your rowing history is epic. Atlantic crossings, real drama, there’s another podcast in that, right?

Mike Palmer:                     [0:07:29] Yes.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:07:32] Gents, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you again for this book and everything that you do. And good luck with the next walk.

All:                                      [0:07:43] Thank you.

Andy Coulson:                   [0:07:45]   If you’ve enjoyed this conversation with Andy, Mike and Tim, please do give us a rating and a review, it really does help enormously. And if you hit ‘subscribe’ wherever you download your podcasts from you will find loads more useful Crisis conversations. You can follow us on Instagram and TikTok, and you can watch the full episodes on YouTube. Just search for Crisis What Crisis podcast. You can also find full transcripts of this and every episode on our website,

And if you or anyone you know has had suicidal thoughts please do reach out to Papyrus, the charity that Andy, Tim and Mike have supported so brilliantly, on 0800 0684141.

Thanks you for listening.