Wheels turn for mental health awareness: photos

Motorcyclists wore their hearts on their leather sleeves on the seventh annual Ride for Mental Illness Awareness on Sunday.

More than 800 bikes - and about 1600 participants - took part in the ride along the South Coast, which raises funds for the Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network (SSPAN).

Event founder Don Dummett said the ride gave participants the chance to take in some great scenery, enjoy time with friends and have a good yarn.

"For someone with a mental illness, with depression, the first step to getting better is to talk about it," he said.

"This event is a great way to encourage that as we find after people have a ride and listen to some speeches, they can enjoy a sausage sandwich and a yarn."

It's a personal mission for Mr Dummett who lost his father to mental illness 17 years ago.

The first Ride For Mental Illness Awareness in 2008 attracted 163 bikes and raised $4300.

This year, about $30,000 was raised for SSPAN, a non-profit volunteer-based organisation that aims to reduce the impact of suicide in the Shoalhaven.

Riders departed from Albion Park showground at 9.30am, before stopping at North Nowra Tavern for lunch and then travelling to Kevin Walsh Oval in Jamberoo for an auction and family fun day.

For support and information about suicide prevention, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78, or Suicide Callback Service, 1300 659 467.

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