Tributes have been paid to a “cheeky and loving” Herts man who has sadly died at the age of 23.
Ben Pegram from Wormley, Hertfordshire, died on Friday, June 11 after taking his own life.
Ben’s mum, Emma Giles, has described him as the life and soul of the party and someone who adored everyone around him.
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He was also a massive England fan and the Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate sent a moving video tribute to the family after hearing the devastating news.
“He was a cheeky little chappy who was a plumber and who knew lots of people, he had lots of friends,” Emma said.
“He was loved by everybody.
“He was just cheeky and funny and happy. He was loyal, loving and was a family man.
“Even his own friends he looked at as his own family. He was just a lovely boy.”
Aaron Darville, Ben’s uncle, took him under his wing at work and “taught him everything he knew” as he began his promising career.
“They used to call him ‘the boy’ at work,” said Emma, “and my favourite thing about Ben was his dancing and his singing.
“He was always dancing, always singing, he always lightened up the mood.
“Wherever he went he just lit up. He had a big, massive smile and he just lit up the whole room.
“When Ben was there you knew you were going to be partying. He loved having a good time, he loved his festivals.”
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‘There are a lot of boys out there that are going through what my Ben was going through’
Ben was also a huge football fan and had been looking forward to watching England play at this summer’s European Championships.
After hearing about Ben’s death, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate sent a heartfelt message to his family to pass on his condolences.
His dad Mark, sisters Jade (26), Izzie (14), Holly (seven), and his niece Bridie (four), as well as his aunts, uncles, girlfriend Lia and wider family, were all left moved by the touching video.
“He loved to watch the England side play, which he was looking forward to this year,” added Emma.
“The England manager Southgate put a tribute out to him on Facebook, [he said] a few words about Ben and said that he was really sorry to hear about the news.
“It went viral on Facebook and I think that was a very honourable thing for them to do.
“You could see it was from the very bottom of his heart.”
Ben’s mental health struggles were unknown to his family and the news that he’d taken his own life came as a heartbreaking shock to everyone.
Emma now wants to try and start up a charity in his name in order to help other young men who are struggling.
“I don’t think there’s enough out there for young men with mental health issues,” she said.
“I think that there are a lot of ways to raise awareness. There are a lot of boys out there that are going through what my Ben was going through and there’s no help for them.
“Even if I had to give my phone number for these people to ring me, just to give them the reassurance that there is help out there, there’s more to life, there’s more to life than what you think. You’ve just got to believe in it.
“I wish that I could have sat there and told my son this. We didn’t know he was feeling this way because he covered it up so well, he’s so happy. That night that it happened he was out with his friends and he was having a right good time. He was laughing, dancing.”
According to the Office for National Statistics there were 5,691 suicides registered in England and Wales in 2019, with around three-quarters among men.
And Emma wants young men – or anyone struggling with mental health problems – to talk about their feelings and seek help.
“From my point of view they need to go and just talk about it. You don’t have to be ashamed that you’re feeling how you are. Go out and talk,” she added.
A GoFundMe page set-up to help with Ben’s funeral costs has gathered nearly £8,000 in donations, and the money left over will go to charities that help raise awareness of mental health in young men, or to help others who are going through a similar experience.
You can find out more information on how to donate here.
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Where to get help
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or finding things difficult, there are a number of agencies and helplines available.
Here are a few of the links and numbers who will be there for you when you need.
Helpline: 116 123 (free of charge from a landline or mobile)
Email [email protected]
24 hr helpline offering emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide
Campaign Against Living Miserably Help and support for young men aged 15-35 on issues which include depression and suicide.
0800 068 4141
For practical advice on suicide prevention
Anxious/worried/stressed – get 24/7 help from a crisis volunteer
SOS Silence of Suicide
0300 1020 505 Monday-Sunday 8am until midnight
Striving to reduce Shame, Stigma and Silence surrounding Emotional Health & Suicide
For children and adults who need emotional support, understanding, compassion and kindness.
The OLLIE Foundation
A charity dedicated to delivering suicide awareness. Providing confidential help and advice to young people and anyone worried about a young person. Helping others to prevent young suicide by delivering a number of training programmes. Delivering online weekly mental health support sessions open and free to all young people.