Lifesaving personal trainer from Berrylands reunited with man he saved from suicide

Jonny Benjamin, left, with Neil Laybourn were reunited on Tuesday

Jonny Benjamin, left, with Neil Laybourn were reunited on Tuesday

First published in News
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This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter - 020 8722 6313

A personal trainer from Berrylands found himself catapulted to national fame as a lifesaver this week.

Neil Laybourn, 31, saved the life of Jonny Benjamin six years ago as the younger man, just 20 at the time, prepared to take his own life on Waterloo Bridge.

Earlier this month Mr Benjamin launched the “Find Mike” campaign online and in the press to find the mystery man who helped him on that wet January day in 2008 – and the pair were reunited on Tuesday.

Mr Laybourn, who runs a gym in central London, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw the campaign, I got in touch straight away.

“I was so pleased to see how well Jonny was doing. I had thought about him over the years and had always hoped he was ok.

“When we met, it was clear how much that encounter on the bridge meant to Jonny, he told me it was a pivotal moment in his life.

“I did what anyone would do. I wasn’t trying to fix his problems that day, I just listened.”

Mr Benjamin, who has a form of schizophrenia, was helped in his campaign by charity Rethink Mental Illness.

He said: “It means the world to me to finally have the opportunity to say thank you.

“That day on the bridge my life hit rock bottom, but meeting Neil, I felt so happy, it couldn’t be more of a contrast.

“It’s as though I’ve come full circle and that chapter of my life has now closed.

“I want everyone to know that you can recover and that things can get better.”

Paul Jenkins, Rethink chief executive, said: “We don’t talk about these issues enough, but the more we do, the more we break down the stigma that surrounds them.”

 

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