Ruth carries The Queen’s Baton for Smile

Co-founder of Smile Group, Ruth Williams was a Batonbearer for Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay on Sunday 17th July. she was selected for her dedication to maternal mental health work 

Ruth Williams, 42, co-founded Smile Group, a charity in East Cheshire that benefits from money raised by Sport Relief, to support parents who are experiencing perinatal mental health challenges by offering group support, talk therapy, wellbeing walks and home visits. 

To recognise and celebrate Ruth’s passion and dedication to making a difference in her community, she was nominated to carry The Queen’s Baton as it travels through England this summer ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Ruth carried the Baton through Northwich on Sunday 17 July. 

On being invited to join the Relay, Ruth said: “I felt a bit embarrassed to start with, but it’s really nice for people to have been so kind about me and the work I do. Even to be nominated was an honour, I was speechless, and so pleased and honoured. 

“My eldest daughter was definitely in my mind as I ran with the Baton as she started my whole journey with Smile, so I thought about her and my family, as well as all the families we’ve supported over the years.” 

Ruth struggled with her mental health in the weeks after giving birth to her first daughter. At one point, she stood on a bridge wondering if she could carry on. When she sought help, she felt there was a gap in community support services in East Cheshire for people with maternal mental health issues. This first-hand experience led her to create Smile Group. 

Ruth said: “I didn’t want anyone to have to go through what I had gone through, I wanted there to be a place any parent could turn to for help and support, and someone else to talk to. The reality of being a new parent is that it can be isolating and lonely and people can have thoughts like ‘I don’t know if I can do this’, or ‘I’m not sure I love my baby’ – we provide a space where you can have those kinds of conversations.” 

She added: “It’s such a good feeling when you know you’ve been able to support someone and make a real difference. It’s amazing to think you can change people’s lives like that.” 

CONGLETON – 20th June 2022: Pictured here is Ruth, Jenny & Elijah, Libby & Caleb and Shannon & Darcey who are participants at SMILE. Ruth is one of four Queen Batton Relay participants for the Commonwealth Games 2022. (Photo by Comic Relief/Honour Burges)

Having been on a 294-day journey, visiting all nations and territories of the Commonwealth, the Baton will be touring the host nation of England, finishing in the host city of Birmingham, where it will take a central role in the Opening Ceremony on 28 July 2022. 

Samir Patel, Chief Executive of Comic Relief, says: “It was a huge honour for Ruth to be a part of the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay and we are so proud of her. This Relay not only marks the start of an incredible summer of sport, it is also an example of how sport has the power to unite and connect people across the UK and the globe. 

“It is fantastic that Sport Relief is a charity partner of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Together, with the help of the amazing British public, we’re hoping to raise life-changing funds to tackle inequality, improve mental health and help young people to survive and thrive.” 

Sport Relief is an official charity partner of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, alongside United By 2022 and the Commonwealth Sport Foundation, and hopes to raise money this summer to help change lives for the better. To find out how you can get involved, visit:  comicrelief.com/sportrelief 

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