The Duke of Cambridge has written an emotional foreword for The Stranger on the Bridge, a memoir written by Jonny Benjamin, who almost took his own life in 2008. Jonny was 20 years old when he found himself standing on the edge of Waterloo Bridge in London, prepared to jump. A stranger named 'Mike', whose actual name is Neil Laybourn, stopped to talk to him and convinced him to climb back to safety.
Prince William, who champions mental health alongside his wife Kate, has written about the bond he shares with Jonny and Neil in the book's touching foreword. "I first met Jonny, along with Neil – the 'Stranger on the Bridge' – in 2016 when we sat overlooking the River Thames at Waterloo," William writes. "We talked about the desperate day that brought them both together, and Jonny's brave journey since then to raise awareness of what it is like to live with mental illness."
Kate recalls difficult time after giving birth to Prince George for Heads Together:
The Duke praised Jonny for tackling the stigma around mental health. He continued: "Mental health if not a dirty word… But I have seen time and again how not seeking help when it all seems too much can impact the rest of our lives."
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He concluded: "I have been struck not only be Jonny's honesty and openness but his ability to show that a mental health diagnosis should not put limitations upon anyone. With Neil, I watched him run the London Marathon past that very same bridge where their journey began, and I know there is so much more on this journey to come."
William and Kate pose with Neil (left) and Jonny (right):
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The Stranger on the Bridge will be released in paperback on 2 May and explores the journey Jonny made to find 'Mike', who saved his life, and how he continues to cope with his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. The memoir also includes heartbreaking extracts from diaries Jonny has been writing since he was 13. In 2017, he was awarded an MBE for his work in mental health awareness.
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