A COUNTY Durham community has come together to raise more than thousand pounds for the funeral of a member of the village.

Gareth Rees, from Esh Winning, died on Friday, aged 29 after he took his own life.

Mr Rees, who had recently become a father to Scarlet, was a well-known member of the community, often seen walking his beloved dog Spot.

His family has spoken out to raise awareness about suicide prevention and have thanked those who have donated money to help pay for a burial in his home village.

Sharon Rees, his sister, said: "Everybody loved him.

"He just cracked jokes all the time. He would lighten up your day.

The Northern Echo:

Gareth Rees and his newborn daughter Scarlet, who came home just before Christmas

"He was a home boy. I was Esh Winning born and bred. He was such a family person.

"People have been so amazing. We couldn't get through this without their help."

She added: "We just want to say to young people to talk more. Don't bottle it up. Nothing is as bad as taking your life.

"If you have problems there are always people to talk to."

Mr Rees worked alongside his father, Brian, as a self-employed window cleaner,

A statement released by his family added: "Gareth was a massive part of our family, he was kind, loving, funny and had a smile to melt hearts. Gareth was loved by everybody. We will hold you in our hearts forever, and love you always, love mam, dad, Brian, Sharon, Katelyn and Nathan.

"We would like to make young people more aware, please do not suffer in silence, talk to someone and share your problems."

Sarah Richardson has been raising money online to help contribute to the funeral and is also organising a fundraising night at Newhouse Club, in Esh Winning, on January 24, starting at 7pm.

She said: "There's been so much support. Everybody liked him. He always had the time of day to talk to you. Nobody expected this – it's been a massive shock."

  • Samaritans is available round-the-clock, every day of the year, to listen and offer confidential support when things are getting to you, by free phone on 116123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit samaritans.org.
  • If you are a young person experiencing a mental health crisis, the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger also provides free, 24-7 support. Just text YM to 85258

To find out more about the online fundraising visit his Go Fund Me page