Good Samaritan found after #Findmike campaign
The mental health worker who started the #Findmike campaign has been reunited with the stranger who talked him down from Waterloo Bridge.
Jonny Benjamin tried to find the Good Samaritan who stopped him from killing himself six years ago, who he had named in his head as ‘Mike’.
His appeal became an international social media hit, and was shared by celebrities including Stephen Fry and Kate Nash, with even the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg adding his support.
And just two weeks later he found his ‘Mike’, although his real name is Neil.
The 31 year-old personal trainer from Surrey says he knew immediately he was the stranger Jonny was looking for.
Neil Hayward said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw the campaign, I got in touch straight away.
“I was so pleased to see how well Jonny was doing, I had thought about him over the years and had always hoped he was ok.
“When we met, it was clear how much that encounter on the bridge meant to Jonny, he told me it was a pivotal moment in his life – which was great to hear.
“I didn’t feel it was that big a deal, I did what anyone would do. I wasn’t trying to fix his problems that day, I just listened.”
The charity Rethink Mental Illness announced the news early this morning and the pair, who finally met during an emotional reunion two days ago, will give their first broadcast interview to ITV1’s Daybreak in a few hours.
Jonny said: “I feel like I’ve won the lottery – I’m totally elated.
“It means the world to me to finally have the opportunity to say thank you.
“That day on the bridge my life hit rock bottom, but meeting Neil, I felt so happy, it couldn’t be more of a contrast.
“It’s as though I’ve come full circle and that chapter of my life has now closed. He’s such a warm, genuine person – everyone should have a friend like Neil.”
Jonny is making a documentary about his search, which is expected to be ready this spring, with the charity planning a premiere screening in London.