Running to beat the stigma of eating disorders

A FORMER RGS student is running the Great North Run to raise money for a charity which helped her recover from an eating disorder.

Francesca Pease, who missed nearly two years of schooling due to her mental health issues, says the eating disorder charity Beat played a massive role in her recuperation.

She also credits family and her love of art for helping her fight the illness.

Having gained an A* and two As at A-level, she is now studying art at Falmouth University, creating work which aims to destigmatise mental illness and challenge society’s taboo subjects.

“I couldn’t have done this without Ripon Grammar School’s amazing art department which taught every student with respect, equality and maturity, obviously along with a lot of passion and love,” she says.

Francesca, who left RGS in 2022, hopes to spread awareness as well as raise £1,000 for Beat, which funds treatment, research, education and most importantly, she says, brings hope to sufferers of eating disorders.

“I want anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder to know they are not alone even if they feel life is impossible now.”

She says she has learnt to prioritise happiness and health: “My last months of school after returning from a psychiatric hospital into a different year group were lonely and extremely difficult and I hope anyone who is currently viewing school in this light manages to hold hope in their heart.

“Small acts of kindness from students and staff on return saved me during these months and helped me to receive the A-level grades I needed for university.

“I can’t emphasise how much kindness can mean to someone in these times (big shout out to head of sixth form Mr Fell and head of art Mrs Henson for being amazing and treating me with such respect).

Cuts to mental health funding add to the problems of stigmatisation in schools and society generally, she says. And she urges everyone to do more to help those who might be suffering.

“Both staff and students can make someone’s lonely world a little more hopeful just by smiling in a corridor, avoiding judgement upon physical presentation of poor mental health and simply by just being kind. You never know what someone is going through,” she says.

“Every donation to Beat, even the smallest amount, helps families, friends and sufferers. If you can’t financially support the cause simply sharing and educating yourself is a great way to help.

“No-one’s family or friends should have to watch their loved one slowly dying. We live in a world in which the taboo of mental health is isolating victims. No-one should be dying of an eating disorder in 2024.
Please don’t be ashamed to ask for help and keep asking until you receive the right support.”

*The Great North Run is on September 8, 2024. Visit Francesca’s fundraising page here:

Francesca Pease is fundraising for Beat (