The death of an “inspirational” Rotherham racing driver by suicide has led a group of friends from Sheffield to raise money for mental health in his memory.

Jake Cook, a father of two, had competed in a variety of competitions, including the Formula Ford EuroCup and British Formula Renault Championship. His death led to 14 of his school friends coming together to honour his memory by raising money for the mental health charity, MIND.

His friend Jojo Quattrocchi, 32, said: “It’s been something so tragic but we’ve managed to try and spin that into something positive by running for Jake’s family, for MIND, and just sharing our solidarity for mental health and how we can maybe break these stigmas.” 

Jake Cook with son, Monty, and step-son, Hayden. Credit: Eve Lake-Grange.

When asked about their memories with Mr Cook, the friends had an abundance of experiences they wanted to share. James Brodie, 30, bonded with Mr Cook over their joint love of auto racing. 

He said: “He was just the sweetest guy. Even though I live down in London now and he was living up in Sheffield, we would stay in contact and we sometimes messaged each other about F1.

“He was just someone who I really enjoyed that world with.”

Olivia Parker, 30, spoke about what Mr Cook was like in school. She said: “He was very hard-working. He was very determined because not only was he incredible at sport and at such a high level, but he was also very intelligent. 

“He was also very humble. He was never someone to particularly brag or rub it in your face.”

Miss Parker detailed why they had chosen a marathon to raise money and pay tribute to their friend: “He had competed as a Formula racing driver for his whole life. He was an extremely sporty and inspirational person and I think we thought what more could we do in his honour than a sporting challenge?”

The group decided to start a fundraiser for the mental health charity, MIND, to help increase awareness of men’s mental health. Men make up 80% of suicides that happen in the UK each year. 

Number of recorded suicides in 2022 by gender. Source: Samaritans

Originally, the group had set their fundraising target at £5,000 but after receiving generous donations, they decided to double it to £10,000. 

Miss Parker said: “It’s really been quite amazing to see the generosity of people coming together. I think people really understand that MIND is a charity that they want to contribute to.”

MIND puts 83 pence from every pound they receive directly into helping people with mental health difficulties. 

In spite of the progress made by mental health charities in the past few years, there is still a stigma around being open about mental health, especially for men.

The group are all taking a different approach to training for the marathon but are updating each other along the way. 

Mr Quattrocchi, who is starting his own mental health charity, has found the process challenging but enjoyable. He said: “I’ve never run 10K in my life. I’ve gone years without running and it has been really good, personally, to get back to feeling the benefits of running, and then obviously the end goal is to finish it, all in honour of Jake.”

The group will be running the half-marathon on 7 April. 

You can donate to their fundraiser here.