Kiwi John Dennis helping save lives in England with Dare 2 Express charity

Kiwi John Dennis' charity Dare 2 Express is about to turn four, and thousands of people who've benefited will be celebrating its birthday. 

Dennis loves spending time with his dog in Bishop's Waltham, England, but there is another black dog in his life - depression. He's made his fight with it public.

"The black dog has come back to bite again unfortunately, which is a bit of a bugger," says Dennis.

His vernacular is typically Kiwi, as is his humbleness.

"I don't really banging on about myself that much really… it kinda feels self-indulgent to a degree."

What he has created is the charity Dare to Express, which funds vital therapy sessions for those that can't afford it or can't afford the six-month NHS waiting list.

"The reality is we have saved lives. I don't want to over-dramatise it, but it is true."

The idea was born out of his own experience.

"When I was 17, my father committed suicide, and in my late thirties, that sorta came back to haunt me essentially. It was a very, very difficult time, chained to my bed for eight-ten weeks, didn't come out of my room, didn't leave the house."

The help he got saved his life and kick-started his campaign to encourage people, particularly men, to talk about their feelings and not feel ashamed to do so.

"It is a New Zealander trying to help people not in his native country. For that reason, with my accent I can play on that a fair bit, which is quite nice, and it helps draw people in."

A huge element of his approach is to get outdoors, go for a walk or for a tramp, or even go Arctic.

"Sometimes they don't need the therapy, they need company. I love company anyway and I love walking."

But funding the charity is no walk in the park. He runs quiz nights, balls, family retreats and golf days to keep the service going.

"99.7 percent of all money we have had in the charity has gone direct into the floor, to help people."

He says he can't keep up with demand. Dennis does it all for free, giving up 20 hours a week to run Dare 2 Express. But he wouldn't have it any other way.

"We are helping the people who really need it."

A Kiwi on the other side of the world helping save lives.

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