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Nick's 30 before 30 fundraising challenge

Even though the COVID19 pandemic put a dampener on Nick’s birthday plans, he didn’t let it stop him having a bit of fun as he completed a series of 30 themed fundraising challenges in the run up to the big day. And we were all thrilled to see Nick and his army of supporters eventually raise an amazing £3,600 to support Lifelink.

Once Nick had a chance to recover from his birthday celebrations, we sat down with him (virtually!), to find out where the idea for a fundraising birthday challenge came from and what the whole experience meant to him.

First of all, why is mental health an important issue for you in the current climate?

“Mental health is important all the time but even more so when we know that many people are facing periods of isolation. We all have to consider and take care of both our mental and physical health. During lockdown most of us lost access to the activities we would normally do to keep ourselves healthy, such as going to the gym or hanging out with friends. The blend of work and personal life was lost. The daily commute was, and still is for many, a few steps from the sofa to the desk. For some, livelihoods and income were either at risk or lost.

I was incredibly grateful to have a strong family and friendship circle around me, spending many nights on Zoom playing games and watching TV together. I was very aware from watching the news though that this isn’t the case for everyone - even as we come out of lockdown, the reality of the new normal isn’t plain sailing.”

And, why did you decide to support Lifelink in particular?

“I’ve known the team at Lifelink for some time now [Nick’s company helps keep the IT side of things running at Lifelink] and I’ve always been impressed with how innovative the organisation is. Unfortunately, I’ve watched the demand for Lifelink’s services grow, fuelled by the mental health challenges that existed before COVID hit. It all sunk in when I was watching one of the daily news conferences and heard the government announce a major investment into mental health, even at that early stage I was thinking about the challenges likely to be coming in the months and years ahead.”

Where did the idea of a ’30 before 30’ series of events come from? What was your favourite activity?

“2020 was the year of my 30th birthday. I had goals, I had travel plans, I had various drinks with friends arranged. It was going to be a cracking year. Then in March 2020, all of the plans I had made fell apart. Like most people I took the first half of the lockdown to process what was going on.

At the start of lockdown I joined a few community groups which got me out the house delivering groceries, dropping off medication and even taking a lady’s glasses to the opticians for an emergency fix. By May I had accepted the situation we were in. Refunds for travel I had planned started to arrive and I took some time to reflect on what my 30th celebrations should be. Did I want to look back at this time as the period of my life that I lost during lockdown? Or did I want to make a mark and (selfishly) feel good that I had done something for others.

By early May I had committed to the idea that I was going to turn my birthday into a fundraising exercise and I couldn’t think of a better place for the money to go. I had just over 30 days before my birthday so, with the addition of a catchy strapline to draw people in, I got things underway.

My favourite challenge was on day 29, the penultimate day. I spent an afternoon sending 30 nice messages to people close to me. I took a moment to stop, reflect upon that friendship and let the person know how I felt. It was a really special thing to go through and even brought a tear to my eye. The only downside to this was that I was then engaged in 30 different conversations with people, so I wasn’t off my phone for the rest of the day!”

Do you have any tips of your own for maintaining positive mental health that you’d like to share?

Before the lockdown, I used to go to the gym, go rock climbing with friends, take part in a theatre group and spend most of my spare time out and about with family and friends. With the majority of these activities not possible as of late I’ve been getting outside by walking, running and I even bought a bike (it seems to be the in thing!) - and now I spend hours each night chatting through Zoom and Facebook calling. If it wasn’t for the technology we have now I couldn’t imagine getting through lockdown. I’m also very aware of the triggers that can send me into a bad day and I try hard to not let myself get into my own head.”

[BONUS QUESTION] Is Spiderman your favourite avenger or was it just the easiest costume to acquire?

“Haha – well… Spiderman is definitely my favourite Avenger but I’m not really a big marvel fan (shhhh!) I had this morph suit from Halloween a couple of years ago and a friend suggested I should do something silly dressed in a costume - hence Spiderman.

I had so much fun doing this, I even had some crowd participation on Buchanan Street. It really engaged people and definitely played a huge part in getting me to the £3600 that was raised with over 100 individual donations.”

A massive thank you goes out from all of us at Lifelink to Nick and his amazing supporters - more than 100 of them in total! If you would like to support our work, you can check out Support Lifelink

 - [Nick as his alter ego in the centre of Glasgow]