We had the pleasure of meeting and fitting walking boots for Blackburn Rovers Community Trust's deputy CEO David Dunwell, who set off today on a 120 mile trip around Lancashire in aid of men's mental health.
From Monday 3rd June to Friday 7th June, David will be walking across the county visiting much-loved football clubs along the way in the hope the football community will back the cause.
From start to finish, David will be completing this challenge (including camping every night) on his own to raise awareness concerning the social isolation and feelings of loneliness that so often accompanies mental health issues.
Inspired by his efforts to raise awareness and money for such a worthy cause, we wanted to find out more. We asked David how he has been preparing for the challenge, if he's picked up any walking tips, what he hopes to achieve and more.
What inspired you to do A Lap of Lancashire?
First and foremost I felt there was more provision needed to support middle-aged men at high-risk or currently suffering from mental health issues. Some of the statistics around suicide in men are crazy and I feel there needs to be more done to improve the current situation and challenge the status-quo.
In my current role I spend a lot of time completing funding bids to support new projects, but on this occasion I felt that I could generate some good awareness whilst raising money and the idea just stemmed from there.
I’m not a cyclist or a runner but I do love the outdoors and walking and it’s one of the things in my life that helps me de-stress, so that mixed with my football background led me to this challenge in particular!
I know it’s going to be really tough but I am hopeful that the money raised will really change some lives.
How have you been preparing for the lap of lancashire?
Walking, walking and more walking.
I’ve been trying to get as many miles in as possible but it has proved difficult having a demanding job and an even more demanding little boy.
In the 52 days running up to the walk I have planned to try and cover 500 training miles and I am pretty much on track to do so. Where I’ve not been able to do as many miles I’ve been trying to carry a bit of extra weight in my back pack.
I’ve been learning how to take care of my body to ensure I can cover the mileage and the new boots have definitely helped my feet!
The dog has been loving how much he’s been out and about exploring beautiful rural Lancashire!
What do you envisage being the most challenging aspect?
It has been tough getting the sponsorships in to try and reach my funding goal but something that has been overcome with a bit of time committed.
I think there is a difficulty in the fact it will be quite a lonely experience, which is purposeful to replicate the social isolation people struggling with mental health face.
I think the toughest part will simply be covering the miles with the weight, particularly around the hilly areas. Some days I will be covering up to 30 miles with a roughly 10kg load which is a lot of time on my feet and pressure on my leg/back muscles.
Have you picked up any walking tips?
I’ve definitely picked bits up and also learnt a lot from trial and error.
Learning how to make sure my body doesn’t get to sore or rub or managing my kit in different weathers (and I’ve seen them all during this training period!). I actually found the experience of getting my boots fitted fascinating and learning about how wrongly fitting shoes can make such a difference!
I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more as I stumble through the real thing!
What do you hope to achieve?
Most importantly I hope to raise awareness of mental health, particularly for middle-aged men.
Secondly, I’d like to raise at least £2,000 to kick-start a new regularly attended project (hopefully more!) to be hosted at Ewood Park and give the opportunity for like-minded men to ‘chew the phat’ and socialise to de-stress and improve their mental health.
How can people donate to the cause?
They can visit my Just Giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/David-Dunwell or if they’d like to get in touch they can do so on David.firstname.lastname@example.org or 01254 508133.