The unstoppable cowboy: Meet the Liverpool man on an unusual expedition
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Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it is a Scouser in his speedos and croc cowboy boots walking across the UK, Amsterdam and the entirety of Tenerife for men's mental health.
Elliott Hampson, 24, from Halewood has been walking different routes throughout England for the last 10 weeks to raise money for the charity “Mind”. A change of scenery has landed him in Tenerife, where he brought in the new year.
Elliott chose to embark on his adventures in just his speedos and cowboy boots as he said it pushes himself to a new extreme. It also brings more recognition to what he is doing as it isn’t everyday you come across a loose cowboy on a mission for mental health.
Elliott has become an advocate for raising mental health awareness after struggling with issues such as depression and anxiety. He said: “Personally, for me, I lost all character of who I was. I got sectioned a few years ago and even coming out of that I knew it wasn’t right for me. I just knew I had to turn my life around, I knew I could not keep living the way I was living.”
The 24-year-old spoke on why he believes there is such a stigma surrounding men's mental health and how society can steer away from it. “I feel like for men these days it’s not a big thing to speak up. I think people can be embarrassed and ashamed, when there isn't any need to be. People think that just because they have mental health problems others are going to judge them. Many people will judge because people don’t understand, and that is why people won’t speak up because they don’t want to regret opening up to someone.”
Elliott went on to speak of his own experience. “People tend to just keep it on the down low, which is what I did for years," he said. "It just made me get worse, not speaking to anyone about it. It’s mad because one day you could be the happiest person in the world and then the next day you don’t even want to be here. It’s scary because you don't have any control of it.”
Elliott recently walked 174 miles from Liverpool One to Cambridge. He completed the walk in six days and met plenty of people along the way. Some of whom were first sceptical of the half-naked man wandering through England, but were left in awe of the determination Elliott shows through each of his expeditions.
He has declined lifts from passers by, been stopped for photos (because who doesn’t want a photo with a speedo cowboy) and expericned much more since embarking on a journey that has taken him to Amsterdam, Snowdon and Ben Nevis.
Since arriving in Tenerife, Elliott has declared it his favourite place. He said: “The walking over here, through the mountains and the hills with the sun beaming down on you is unbelievable.” As recently as yesterday, Elliott met fellow campers from France and set up camp with them for the night leading to newfound friendships along the way.
Ten weeks walking can do wonders for both the brain and the body. Elliott said: “The physical and mental change has been massive. It's half mad to say, without even meaning to sound big-headed. I feel like I'm unstoppable now. I’m not even joking; I feel like I can do anything.”
Elliott describes the support he has had as 'unbelievable', adding: "It’s crazy to be honest with you. I’m just getting constant messages all day every day from people telling me they support me and love what I'm doing.”.