A YOUNG Hyndburn woman has revealed how she was on the brink of suicide following years of bullying from fellow pupils at a Church of England high school.
Mandy Atkinson, 20, of Hopwood Street, Accrington, disclosed how she self-harmed as students at St Christopher’s High School continued their hate campaign against her.
Now Mandy is organising a peaceful parade from Accrington to Blackburn to celebrate cultural diversity and to remember Rossendale woman Sophie Lancaster who was murdered for dressing as a goth.
Mandy said: "I was suicidal and cutting myself.
"I would stand outside my classroom waiting for lessons to start and would be kicked in the back of my legs and have things put in my hair like chewing gum. This would happen almost every day.
"The kids called me all kinds of names throughout my school life. I reported the bullying to teachers but most of them did nothing.
"It finally stopped when I started college and people accepted me for who I was."
The march will celebrate the right to be treated as individuals without prejudice.
Everyone is invited to join in and meet outside Accring-ton Town Hall at 2pm next Sunday, 26 October.
Mandy added: "It won’t raise money for the Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere (SOPHIE) charity but it will raise awareness that there are people being bullied and even killed just for looking different.
"This parade is not only for goths but for anyone who has ever suffered at the hands of bullies."
Mandy was bullied in school for being part-Indian and was later targeted at high school for her "goth-like’’ appearance.
Gap year student Sophie, 20, was attacked in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, last August along with her boyfriend Robert Maltby. She died 13 days later. Robert is still recovering from his injuries.
Mandy said: "I met her a couple of times and a lot of my friends were really close to her. I am doing this not just for Sophie but for anyone who has ever been bullied. These attacks are disgusting.
"My advice to people suffering from bullying is not to give up. If I hadn’t been bullied I would probably be a sheep following the herd rather than who I really am – my own person. Carry on being yourself."
She praised the help she has received from Alicia Thompson, from Sheffield, who organised a march in the city in August, and co-organiser of the Accrington par-ade, Sarah Knight from Stacksteads.