A message from Fiona Starr
Psychologist and loving wife who lost her husband to mental illness
Jonny was my soul mate for over 25 years. I feel blessed to have grown up with him. Our lives as a couple, and later as a family, were filled with laughter, music, and sunny memories with our community of family and friends. Even towards the end, when his flame was burning out, we managed to salvage deep moments of love and humour.
Most importantly, Jonny was simply the best dad ever. He cherished all three of our boys and instilled in them a love of life, a sense of humour, and a passion for stories and for football of course. Jonny’s magic touched everyone: his parents, his sister and brother in-law, niece and nephew and our wider family. He reached out to everyone he met in schools and libraries, in our community of friends, neighbours, and authors… even the guys in the local corner shop. Thankfully the boys and I will always hold big buckets of his magic inside us. I am sure that those of you who knew him carry a piece of that too.
Jonny suffered with episodes of depression and anxiety throughout his adult life, especially when he worried about his writing work. Over the past two years or so, this all started to grow increasingly out of control. His vision of his world narrowed in on itself. Despite all the love and comfort that surrounded him, he was unreachable. Some of us left behind continue to ask why? What could I have done differently? How could I have helped? There are no right answers. Jonny was suffering with a mental illness. For all sorts of complex reasons that no one yet fully understands, the connections in his brain were not working properly and this led him to take his own life.
The Striker Boy campaign gives our family hope and comfort that Jonny’s death was not in vain and that even in death his words can still inspire thousands of children all over the world. Striker Boy was one of Jonny’s most popular books, not only because of the incredibly gripping football story, but also because of the touching relationship between the main character, Nat, and his father.
£1.40 from every copy sold is donated directly to Mind. For months Jonny and I carried around the precious leaflet of activities that were on offer at our local Mind. Sadly, the groups were often oversubscribed.
So please spread the word, buy the book and support Mind, support the campaign to create a Jonny Zucker legacy and help to reduce the shame, the stigma and the invisibility of mental illness and suicide.