Today on the blog, we are interviewing someone close to our hearts at Heather & Lay. We first met Dan as he works a few doors down from us at Bosun’s Locker but when we discovered his story, we knew we wanted to support him on his journey. Read all about it in our exclusive interview with the man himself…
Hi Dan, it’s so lovely to chat with you today. Our readers would love to know a bit about your story
Absolutely! Well, during lockdown I broke up with my long-term girlfriend which was such a tough time as we were all so isolated then and working in retail, I didn’t even have my work to ground me. It was a strange time, I’m a chilled-out person but I really struggled, and I couldn’t see my friends or anything. I think it can be easy to drink your way out of this kind of situation and go into a dark hole.
So, I decided to start hiking the Cornish coast path. I walked more and more and that’s when I discovered Man Down Cornwall; a dedicated Community Interest Company to support men’s mental health. I decided it was time to go bigger so I hiked Ben Nevis in Scotland – I absolutely loved it. When I returned from Scotland, I decided I was going to climb 6 mountains around the world, each one higher than the last, raising money and awareness of mental health for men, in collaboration with Man Down.
So, during the last 3 years I have hiked 6 mountains – Ben Nevis, Snowdon Crib Goch, Hvannadals- Hnúkur – the highest peak in Iceland, Mount Toubkal and Mount Ararat then back to Mount Toubkal in the winter. I was the first Cornish person to climb Mount Ararat in winter, so I ended up being on BBC Spotlight and interviewed by all the local press. I even got to turn the Christmas lights on for Falmouth which was incredible. I can’t believe I went from walking Penryn to Maenporth to this.
So, what is next?
I’ve been self-funded for those mountains but as I go bigger, I will need more. The next stop is Nepal!
Can you tell us a bit about Man Down Cornwall?
Absolutely. I’m an Ambassador for Man Down and I am a massive advocate for men’s mental health. Man Down is a Cornwall based non-profit Community Interest Company. They offer informal peer-support talking groups all around Cornwall for men with mental health concerns with the aim of ending the stigma and reducing male suicide in Cornwall. 12 men a day in the UK take their own lives and Cornwall has the third highest suicide rate in the country, making the main aim of Man Down to reduce this figure and offer support via fortnightly meetups, events, challenges and even weekend retreats to raise awareness and bring men together. It’s a brilliant cause.
We would love to hear a bit about your sponsors
Well, of course I have to start with Heather & Lay. John is a customer of Bosun’s Locker and he also found me a property when I needed one. He took a real interest in the climbing and decided to sponsor me. The Heather & Lay logo is on my climbing jacket as well! My other sponsors are Bare Knuckle Pickups, Greenstone Groundworks, Big Eats Porthleven (which is where I’m originally from), SKB Sailmakers in Penryn and Collington’s Helston.
Which was your favourite mountain?
It’s hard to say! Each mountain I got to walk with a local guide and the Welsh one with 3 fellow lifeboat crew. The mountain in Turkey was the longest at 3 days, Ben Nevis took just a day and the mountain I climbed in Morocco was 2 days. But if I had to share just one favourite it would have to be Mount Ararat, even though I broke my ribs on the way down! The view from the summit was amazing and a great culture in a very remote area.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I just want to say that you can change your situation if you put the effort in. It is my aim to show people that if you work hard and set a goal you can achieve anything. I have been climbing for 3 years now, travelled all around the world, I have sponsors and have even set a few records in a short amount of time. You can absolutely change your circumstances and don’t ever feel afraid to ask for support.
Wow, what a story. We are so proud to support and champion Dan on his adventures. If you want to find out more about what he’s up to and where you can find him next, follow him on Instagram @danlilley86