The coronavirus pandemic has allowed many of us to do things we wouldn’t normally do and for Manchester Storm fan Dave Fairbrother, he decided to go for a long walk. Quite a few of them actually.
The 51-year-old donned full hockey kit and has walked over 200 miles in 36 days in aid of mental health as part of a charity drive by Patch Amnesty, an initiative run by Dave’s friend Michael Lacy.
And, speaking to The BIH Show podcast, he explained how the whole idea began for him.
“It all started about five weeks ago, during the lockdown,” he said. “I’d been in Australia at the start of the lockdown and when we returned, I was furloughed so with the pandemic, I couldn’t do anything.
“I’m a sheet metal worker and I’ve had my struggles in the past with mental illness so I approached a chap I know because I listen to a radio station called Primordial and he gets mentioned a lot for some of the charity stuff he does so I asked him what I could do.
“He basically told me I could do whatever I wanted so, as I’m an ice hockey fan, I decided to put my kit and walk nine kilometres every day, come rain or shine and that’s how it all started.
“The walks have stopped recently is because I got the call to return to work a couple of weeks ago. My boss told us at the time he didn’t expect we’ll be back until August so I was gearing myself to walk all the way up until then, but I got the phone call early.”
Patch Amnesty began through Lacy taking on old patches from rock groups and selling them on at gigs and concerts, with the money going into the initiative and has raised over £10,000 so far, with the proceeds going to Mind, the mental health charity.
Dave’s own endeavours has captured the attention of Storm’s coach Ryan Finnerty and captain Dallas Ehrhardt, who have joined him on walks.
And he admits the good weather days can leave the hockey kit feeling heavy and warm.
He added: “I live in Saddleworth and it’s quite villagey so there are days where I’ll walk around and I’ll hardly see anyone and other days where there’s a dozen people out and about.
“Manchester Storm have been fantastic and I had Ryan Finnerty join me for a walk and Dallas Ehrhardt come with me for one walk as well. It must have looked really weird seeing three people walking about with hockey stuff on.
“The day Ryan walked with us, it was one of the hottest days of the year and even he said it was too hot and he was in shorts and T-shirt. It’s been stupid hot some days, walking around in full hockey gear.”
It’s important to note that Dave is delivering a very important message about mental illness and spreading the awareness that it’s good to talk and that’s exactly what he’s been doing when he’s been out and about.
He said: “It’s a big thing to talk about mental illness and I’ve spoken to so many people on these walks who have stopped in their cars and asked me about what I’m doing and just being able to talk to that one person lets them have the opportunity they know someone who’s had issues.
“It’s been nice to tell people about what we’re doing and why. It raises the awareness and helps them find out the places to go.”
So the walks may have stopped for now due to Dave returning to his day job, but he’s got one more coming and – restrictions permitting – is hoping to finish with a bang,
He said: “I’m doing a final walk on 25th July and I want to get as many as I can to join me in hockey jerseys, within government guidelines of course as well as people in the rock and metal community.
“It would great to see so many people come and help me finish it off, but as I say, as long as it abides within the coronavirus measures that have been set.”
For anyone wishing to find out more, please visit Patch Amnesty at www.patchamnesty.co.uk or follow them on social media.
Anyone wishing to follow Dave’s progress should head to Twitter@walkformind1 and Instagram @bigdavef.