A TEENAGE Olympian has spoken out in support of a mental health charity after finding out about the work it does across County Durham.

Gymnast Amy Tinkler, from Bishop Auckland, visited the If You Care Share Foundation, based in Great Lumley, near Chester-le-Street, to find out about what the charity does with National Lottery funding.

Miss Tinkler, who gets National Lottery funding, has made a video to showcase her hometown and the support given to the charity, which was founded by Shirley Smith after she lost her son Daniel to suicide.

She also paid tribute to the “unbelievable” support she had been given since winning a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, which she attended aged 16, as the youngest member of Team GB.

The Northern Echo:

Bishop Auckland gymnast Amy Tinkler

She said: “The support I have had over the years from the people of Bishop Auckland and beyond has been unbelievable. They have always got behind me but the backing I got from them when I returned from Rio was something else.

"The local council arranged an open top bus parade for me, while my estate held a dinner party. I didn’t expect any of it and they have helped shape me as a person.

“The National Lottery has a massive impact on not just me but the whole of Great Britain team. Most of our gyms receive National Lottery funding and this enables us to train in fantastic facilities.

"None of us would be where we are now with National Lottery funding.

“I had the pleasure of visiting the If U Care Share Foundation, which is an amazing organisation in Durham. It helps people deal with their mental health, which is such an important subject.

"People are more likely to go to the doctors when they are physically ill but not so many people will go to look after their mental health – that needs to change.

"It was quite moving to go in there and see how much they do and what they can do to help. It is brilliant that the National Lottery helps this brilliant local project.”

The My Hometown campaign video sees Miss Tinkler returning to her old school, Durham High School for Girls, in Durham.

The Northern Echo:

Amy Tinkler near her home in Bishop Auckland

Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, said: “National Lottery funding has been instrumental in the nation’s sporting success. Amy Tinkler is a true local hero and people in her hometown can be proud of her accomplishments.

“And National Lottery players can also be proud of the role they have played, not only in nurturing sporting talent, but in the contribution the National Lottery makes to improving lives in communities throughout the UK by supporting fantastic organisations such as If U Care Share in Durham.”