Bathgate's Devin Gordon inspires Armadale schoolboy Max Smith to climb Pentland Hills for Young Minds Trust

A caring schoolboy will take on a 16-mile charity hike after he was left heartbroken by news of youngsters struggling with their mental health and taking their own lives.

By Rhoda Morrison
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:55 am

Max Smith, 13, first decided to climb the Pentland Hills to raise funds for the Young Minds Trust after reading about Bathgate teenager Devin Gordon who died suddenly in January. He was also touched by similar stories of other young people across the globe.

“I didn’t know Devin personally but I was so shocked to hear about his death,” said the Armadale Academy pupil .

“It kind of broke my heart that he felt he couldn’t speak to anyone and it broke my heart that no one could do anything about it.

Max Smith and his granddad George Higgins will take on the charity hike on Sunday

“That’s why I want to do this, I just thought they had their whole lives ahead of them and I could try and help others going through the same thing.”

Max said he hoped Devin’s family, and those of others who had taken their own lives, would be happy with the work he was trying to do to help.

“I hope they’d be proud of what I’m doing and I hope they will see that it’s not just their kids who are struggling. So many young people are struggling all over the world. I just want the families to know that their children are still remembered and still loved and that it’s for their children too that I’m doing it.”

He added: “I want to tell anyone who is struggling that the most important thing to do is to talk to a trusted adult so that they can give them the advice they need.

“And if you have a bad day, just remember that you are always loved and there are places like Young Minds that can help and support you.”

Keen footballer Max is set to climb the Pentland Hills with his granddad George Higgins, 61, who has plenty of experience in hill climbing and once reached Mount Everest Base Camp. His mum, stepdad, gran and some of George’s friends will also be joining the pair on the hike.

The big-hearted youngster set out to raise just £150 for the cause but has already smashed his target, with the total currently sitting at £530.

“Honestly it has been absolutely incredible. My school has joined in and has been posting it on social media and my football team has got involved too,” said Max.

“It’s heartwarming and it’s just incredible to know that people are watching my journey.”

Max’s 17-year-old sister Amy, whose friend Sephora Laforge was found dead at the age of 15, said she was blown away by the work her little brother was doing to try and help young people suffering with their mental health.

“I am very, very proud of Max. He takes my breath away everyday and he’s doing it for such an amazing cause,” she said.

“I was really close with Sephora and her death affected my year group so badly.

"Max was so supportive and I’m so proud that he’s trying to raise awareness of such a big issue and a big problem that sometimes get pushed off because it’s not physical pain.

“It’s things like this that let people know they’re not alone and shows them there is so much they can do and so many people who can help to get them better.”

Amy added that, although she’ll be unable to join the hike due to work, she’ll be supporting her brother and the rest of the group from afar.

"I’ll be cheering them on the whole time,” she said.

To donate to Max’s JustGiving page, click here.