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In July 2023 Sean undertook a gruelling, and at times lonely, 101-day, 1,257 mile walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise awareness of mental health and funds for Mates in Mind.

Prior to this event and having felt what he described as a little burnt out and anxious about going to work, Sean started to think about taking a career break. He decided to go ahead with the plan after being inspired by a book about two men biking across England and Scotland, who start out in just their boxer shorts, relying on the kindness of strangers for help. Having made this life change, Sean decided to follow in their footsteps – although fully dressed and alone other than the support and encouragement of those around him.

Having committed to undertake this personal challenge, he realised that it would help to motivate him if he walked for a good cause. In his previous role as a health and safety specialist, he had worked with several organisations that had mentioned Mates in Mind, “I’d always heard great things on the work done and support provided across industries. So, it was a no brainer. I decided to walk for you”.

It was a solo venture and, at times, a desperately lonely one, but it was the thought of the awareness and money he was raising, the calls and messages from family, friends, former work colleagues, and conversations with strangers that kept him going.

“There were some lovely people I met along the way who were walking similar parts of the route, which was really nice. I remember on one occasion there was a big burly chap who came over to me in a bar and he told me he was trying to read what was on my cap which said, ‘Walk with Seany, Mates in Mind’ and he said, ‘Oh Mates in Mind’. It was a really strange moment because in an instant, he went from being this really burly guy to this emotional teary guy, talking about how his friend had taken his own life over getting into debt. And I guess that's a big thing that resonated for me that people are getting stressed out at work but it’s not just that, it is also finances and Covid as well. I think it was a good thing to experience to see how deep the problems can go.”

Sean recalls some particularly hard and testing times during the journey, “There were tears, there were injuries, there were periods where I had to take time off because my back was in a terrible place. There were times when I thought about stepping away from it and saying ‘OK, I gave it a good crack’. But it was ultimately knowing that I was doing it for a good cause, that was the thing that probably got me across the line.”

On completing his journey, Sean posted a powerful and personal reflection on social media:

“We live in a society where bottling up our feelings is common. Where people are still afraid to speak out and talk.

  • Be that person who sets the example.
  • Be that person who is approachable to those who find it tough to speak out.
  • Be that person who doesn’t make a conversation about mental health, awkward or embarrassing.
  • Be the person who notices when someone is not acting as their normal self and checks in with them.
  • Be that person who supports and pushes for mental health first aiders in your organisation.
  • Be the difference. #bethechange.”

Sean has demonstrated how the power of physical exercise can help your mental wellbeing alongside the importance of finding support rather than isolating yourself when you are facing difficulties.

At Mates in Mind, we are in awe of his determination, resilience and courage, as well as thankful for the awareness and charitable sum that Sean has raised. We wish him well on his future fundraising challenges whilst raising awareness of mental health, which knowing Sean, will be similarly extreme and impressive.

Discover how you can fundraise for us.

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