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On 5th April 2020, 51-year-old Mike Hayward from Dursley, will be walking into the ring for his first ever white-collar boxing match, all in aid of Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. With no previous experience in the ring, this is a huge challenge for Mike to be taking on, after just 8 weeks of intense training.
Here Mike explains why a long battle with mental health has led to him taking on this incredible challenge in aid of GWAAC.
“I’ve been ill for about nine years with clinical depression and bulimia, and about six months ago I started to feel like it was coming to an end. This was in no small part due to friends who came into my life at that time, offered support that wasn`t there before, made me feel confident, worthwhile, worthy and have changed my life for the better”.
Mike has suffered a long-lasting battle with his own mental health and wellbeing and, like many people who suffer from poor mental health, has struggled to carry on with his day-to-day life.
A few months ago, Mike had noticed a difference in his wellbeing, and decided to look for a new challenge to focus on. He decided to throw himself into something different in support of his local air ambulance, walking in to a meeting with 40 other people and signing himself up to Ultra White Collar Boxing!
“I’m not sure how I did it to be honest. What helps is that I’d told everyone I was doing it so it was easier to face the 40 people I didn’t know. I have a real confidence issue since I’ve been ill, I don’t like to go outside of my comfort zone but once you get over the hard bit of getting out the door, it makes a huge difference,” said Mike.
Mike will be taking part in three rounds of two minute matches on the night, in front of a crowd of 500 people. Taking on this challenge is well and truly outside of his comfort zone, but Mike says it is the support and encouragement he has got from friends, family and his local community that has spurred him on.
“What’s really nice is that everyone has been really supportive and interested. People I see walking down the street will ask know the boxing is going, so that’s really nice. Family and friends have been absolutely fantastic, the gym I go to have booked a table of 10 to come and watch, as has my local pub.”
As well as being an important step on his road to recovery, and to raise awareness of mental health issues amongst men, Mike is also hoping to raise £2,000 for his local air ambulance, GWAAC. The charity holds a special place in his family after the Critical Care Team attended to his son, Jamie, around 10 years ago when he was injured playing rugby.
The charity provides a critical care service to 2.1 million people across Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset, attending to over 5 life-threatening incidents a day on average. Each mission the Critical Care Team carry out costs around £2,000, with the team bringing the skills and interventions of a hospital straight to the scene of a patient where they need it the most.
Close friend of Mike’s, and Chairman of the Cam and Dursley support group for GWAAC, Andy Markham, has spoken on behalf of the local community to say:
“It’s been an incredible journey with Mike, to see how he has coped with his mental health is remarkable. If you look at various models of wellbeing, it’s all about positivity, getting engaged with stuff and having good relationships with people, and what Mike is doing is not only so good for himself, but also for others going through a similar journey who can see what he’s doing and think about how they too can help themselves. We’re all really proud of Mike, of what he has achieved to date, and what he’s going to achieve.”
If you would like to follow Mike’s incredible journey and help him raise awareness for two great causes, then head to his JustGiving page.