To me, “StrongMen” is a passion conceived out of personal experience. The “StrongMen” concept was something I came up with during my own recovery from a bereavement.
Alongside suffering from grief, I was also diagnosed with anxiety, depression & PTSD. In order to recover from these conditions, I used physical exercise to help disperse build up of adrenaline and stress levels.
Going to the gym was useful, but it was when I trained in the outdoors that I noticed the biggest impact on my mood and outlook. In addition to this I noticed something more.
Whilst exercising inside in the gym, I would open up a little to my training partner about how I was feeling, but when I trained outside in the wild, they couldn’t shut me up.
I was able to focus on the outdoors and the exercise on hand and in doing so, found myself talking about what was going on in my head. Not only that, the focus on the physical training helped push out intrusive, negative memories and thoughts I was having due to the PTSD symptoms I was suffering from even if it was just for that hour or two that I was working out.
But, that break from the constant mental hammering I was taking was invaluable. It’s this experience I hope to share via the “StrongMen” project and in turn help others going through the grieving process.
My opinion is that doing positive things to help others is a massive part of recovering and healing myself. In 2018 I appeared as recruit 13 on Channel 4’s “SAS who dares wins”, where I met “Ollie Ollerton” who has been a friend and mentor since meeting him. The SAS who dares wins experience was truly amazing and educated me on how quickly you can form a close bond with people you don’t know in just a few hours when you have a common connection against adversity. This was another deciding factor in the birth of “StrongMen”.
Professionally, I have a long career in IT telecoms operations and I serve as a Trustee for the child bereavement charity “Nikki’s Wishes” which I founded in memory of Nikki. In 2018 I was delighted to receive a Heart FM hero award for fundraising.
Personally, I have an amazing family and group of friends who I could never even begin to repay for the love, care and support they showed me and my children through the very worst of times.
I sincerely hope that the creation of “StrongMen” is the start of something new, innovative and effective in helping men to talk about their mental struggles while learning the benefits of looking after yourself physically and the importance of connecting with people of similar experience to aid the recovery from a bereavement and the related stresses and conditions this can cause.