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Speedo Mick to embark from the Highlands and Islands on a mega 2,000-mile trek across the UK to hand out £250,000 to good causes

By Louise Glen

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Speedo Mick as he set out on his challenge in 2020.
Speedo Mick as he set out on his challenge in 2020.

CHARITY hero Speedo Mick will walk through Scotland in his famous underwear to hand out £250,000 to worthy charities he will meet along the way.

Mick Cullen, 56, has trekked thousands of miles, attended hundreds of football matches and raised more than £650,000 in recent years - all while dressed only in a pair of blue swimming trunks.

Starting on May 31, the Everton fan will embark upon a new mammoth five-month trek across the UK and Ireland to hand out cash raised from his previous adventures - as well as raising even more.

While in Scotland, he will take in Inverness, Stornoway, Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as connecting towns and villages.

He said: “The reason I’m doing the walk is primarily to give back to the people and the communities who have supported me and the fundraising I’ve done in the past.

“The Covid–19 pandemic has placed a huge strain on the finances of so many worthy charities, so I’ll do anything I can to help.

“Marcus Rashford’s campaigning has shone a massive light on how difficult life can be for a lot of young people in this country, whether because of a lack of food, money or opportunities.

“Homelessness and disadvantaged young people are two issues very close to my own heart as I’ve been through those struggles and I know how hard it is to come out the other side.

“In my life, I’ve been in some dark, lonely, hopeless places and for me, one the most rewarding parts of my fundraising has been to help people who are facing what I have faced.”

Superfit Mick, who has twice been nominated for a Pride of Britain Award, first hit the headlines in 2014 by swimming the English Channel in just under 16 hours - despite being a novice swimmer.

He turned up to Everton’s next home game in a pair of blue Speedos with "Channel Swimmer" written on his chest, and his famous look was born.

The community hero, from Liverpool, was inspired to take up fundraising after his own battles with alcohol and drug dependency, isolation and homelessness.

In 2017 the football fan walked 700 miles from Everton’s Goodison Park ground to the French city of Lyon, raising funds for Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

And in 2019 he completed a 1,000-mile walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End and raised half a million pounds, far exceeding his initial target of £100,000.

His newest mission, the Speedo Mick Giving Back Tour will start on May 31 and cover 2,000 miles, taking in five capital cities - London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Dublin and Belfast.

Starting from Stornoway, in Scotland’s Western Isles, and ending in Liverpool, the route will cover a string of towns and cities and Mick will walk up to 20 miles per day across five months.

He’ll only be wearing his trademark blue undies, as well as a swimming cap, Everton scarf and a pair of boots.

The main goal is to identify good causes in communities that are deserving of some of the funds he has already raised through previous missions, with a focus on underprivileged or homeless young people and mental health initiatives.

However, he also wants to raise more money to donate in future, with the footie fan just £350,000 away from hitting the £1million mark since he began in 2014.

He said: “The last year has been very tough for me personally, I’ve struggled with depression and at times it felt like it was never going to end.

“We’d just finished my last walking tour when the country was plunged into lockdown, and it took away my sense of purpose.

“I’m someone who always needs to be doing something and raising money for charity has been such a big part of my life, but that stopped pretty much overnight with lockdown.

“The Giving Back Tour has given me my purpose back after a really tough year and it’s helped me see light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s a privilege for me to meet people who might need a helping hand and to be able to support them means the world to me.

“We had raised a lot of money in the past and now we want to use that to the best possible effect, by seeking out good causes throughout the country and by helping them after a year in which their finances have been decimated.

“We also want to raise more money if we can as that will help us continue to work with good causes around the UK.”

Mick’s previous walk from John O’Groat’s to Land’s End took three months, from starting in December 2019 to the end in February 2020.

Crowds of well-wishers lined streets wherever he went to show their support, and Mick hopes to see more of the same this time around.

And while he can’t wait to get started, there are some aspects of his gruelling mission that he isn’t looking forward to.

He added: “I can’t wait to just get out there and go, it’s the best feeling in the world to see people coming out to support me and if I can raise a smile just by walking down the road in my undies, then it’s all worth it.

“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few parts of the walk I’m dreading. I’m definitely not looking forward to the blisters, the chaffing and the cold weather.

“I’m a 56-year-old man, so my knees will be cracking and shaking the whole way, and so will my hips, my ankles, my back and my neck.

“People always say that I must get used to the cold when I’m walking in my knickers, but you never get used to it, it rattles your bones every time.”

The Speedo Mick Foundation was set up in 2020 and Mick and a board of trustees work on helping good causes in the fields of homelessness and disadvantaged young people.

It aims to work with vulnerable groups to advance education, prevent or relieve poverty and support people facing issues such as ill health or financial hardship.

Applicants are welcome to seek help from the Foundation and are asked to apply through its website https://www.thespeedomickfoundation.org/.

To donate to Speedo Mick’s Giving Back Tour, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/speedomick

READ: Speedo Mick's brief encounter in Ross-shire boosts fundraising hero as temperatures dip

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