Mayor of Derry meets Speedo Mick

Some people could have been forgiven for thinking they had too much sun today after spotting a middle-aged man wearing nothing but a pair of walking boots standing alongside Derry’s mayor, Graeme Warke on the famous Guildhall steps today.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 3:47 pm

But their eyes were not deceiving them, for the man in skimpy swimwear was none other that Speedo Mick, aka, Michael Cullen, the fundraising hero from Liverpool who is currently in the midst of a mammoth five-month #2000MileGivingBackTour across the UK and Ireland to hand out cash raised from his previous adventures – as well as raising even more.

Today his trek takes him from Ballykelly to Co Donegal and he met the mayor of Derry on his way.

The mayor posted on Facebook: “Great to welcome ‘Speedo Mick’ to Guildhall Square ‍♂️ In his latest charity challenge, Michael, a big Everton fan, is currently doing his #2000MileGivingBackTour around UK & Ireland, raising funds for important issues like homelessness, mental health and disadvantaged young people.

Speedo Mick making his way to Larne from Belfast as part of his charity trek.

“It was a pleasure to meet and chat with him this morning - keep at it.”

A life long Everton supporter (the name is emblazoned on his bathing pants), Mick Cullen has this week trekked from Larne to Waterfoot, then on to Ballycastle. Averaging 18.5 miles a day, today’s leg of his journey will end in Newtoncunningham, Co Donegal. From there he will walk further south, before ending his fundraising odyssey in Dublin.

A former addict, Cullen spent a large part of his early life homeless. After overcoming his struggles (with help from others), he decided to give something back and in 2004 raised £2,000 for a homeless hostel by swimming the English Channel.

Since then, Cullen has kept the fundraising momentum going, with the SpeedoMick Foundation having raised some £650,000 for charity, providing support for young people through education, relieving poverty, or the support of mental and physical health.

Speedo Mick said: “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. 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.”

His SpeedoMick Foundation website explains: “Today I am part of something that has given me back my self-respect, my confidence, my humility and my sense of belonging back to me. The Speedo Mick Foundation is a Registered Charity giving back to the community that is in need of help and support and today myself and our team are capable of offering this support.

“It has not always been this way for me. For a long time, I was in need of that very same help and support that I am now offering to others. I have been the homeless person you see in the shop doorway, the addict, the alcoholic, the hopeless case that had made so many bad decisions that there was surely no way back.

“I made these terrible decisions in my life in order to block out the pain I was feeling inside.

“I could not see any way out. I had become isolated from society and left to my own devices I made things much worse. I was no longer a part of my family and I had nothing to contribute to my community. I made these terrible decisions in my life in order to block out the pain I was feeling inside and as a result I took no responsibility and I blamed everybody else for the position I found myself in. I was so entrenched in my self-destructive behaviour patterns that I had lost sight of the compassionate loving caring person I always hoped I’d be.

“I had mostly been given up on by my community and by my family and my friends. Not because they didn’t want to help but because they had tried to help me so many times without success so in the end it just seemed futile to try. I had to accept help from others, the power was in my hands and the decision had to be made by me to first of all except that I needed help to reach deep inside to find the flicker of hope that was left and I could return and become the man I longed to be and to fulfil my ambition to once again be a part of my loving family and a productive member of my community and society as a whole.”

Now, not only has he accomplished that, the ambition to be part of a loving family and a productive member of the community has been met and exceeded time and again, as he continues to help others, this time through the #2000MileGivingBackTour of UK and Ireland.

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