A YOUNG racer has clinched two championship titles while flying the flag against bullying - with a picture of a 12-year-old girl who took her own life emblazoned on her kart.

Catherine Potter, 13, of Bowburn, near Durham, who has herself been subject of bullying in a sport dominated by males, has taken up the cause of Charley Patterson, who died tragically on October 1.

Charley’s family have launched a campaign calling for Charley Law, which would make it a legal requirement for youngsters to get mental health support more quickly and have regular reviews to ensure they were getting better.

The Northern Echo:

Catherine said: “I want to raise awareness of anyone who is getting bullied. I think it is important to get the word across to everyone.

“Bullying should be stopped, because it can hurt people. Some people end up taking their lives because of it. And that should not happen.

“I really wanted to have Charley's photo on the front of my kart, so everyone could see her when I crossed the line.”

Catherine found herself the target of bullying from boys on the track, because “they thought they should be should do better than girls”. She was rammed off the track and it got so bad at one point that her father David replaced her plastic bumper with a metal one.

The Northern Echo:

She has just won the Warden Law Kart Club Sprint series and the Honda 200 Cadet Teesside Sprint Championship - the first girl to win the latter title. She was joined on the podium by her brother Thomas, nine.

Her dad, David, said: “I am really proud that Catherine has had the courage to take up the cause and to put Charley on the kart she loves.

"And to have my children qualifying first and second in the final race and see them both on podium brought a tear to my eye.”

The Northern Echo:

Charley’s mum Jay, of Cramlington, Northumberland, said: “I think what Catherine is doing is brilliant. Her father approached us first and said she was quite upset about it.

“Although she and Charley never knew each other, because she had been in the same situation, she knew what it felt like and she wanted to get the word out."

In the months before her tragic death, Charley had been suffering from serious mental health problems, which her family believed were linked to bullying they say she suffered at school.

Charley first sought help from her GP in November, her mum says, but it wasn’t until a hospital visit in March that she was put on a waiting list for an appointment with Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS). And she was warned it could take as long as three years before she was seen.

The Northern Echo:

Under Charley Law, Jay wants a young person seeking help to have an initial assessment within one month, a meeting with everyone involved in the young persons followed by weekly meetings, and support from one regular person so they can build up a rapport and build trust and further meetings with all professionals, as the young person builds strength and self confidence.

Jay said: "The help Charley asked for wasn't there and I don't want that to happen to anyone else."

Catherine has raised money with her business Retyred by Catherine to buy fund her racing and will move into the next category Rotax - continuing her campaign for Charley Law.

For more information about Charley Law click here and about Catherine Potter click here.