Two Salford men plan to pedal from London to Amsterdam in June to raise money for a local mental health charity.
Matthew Muscat and Conor Mannion will begin their fundraiser on June 10, and will be the first duo in the city to participate in the cyclet for Mind In Salford.
Mr Muscat, who is currently studying mechanical engineering, wanted to bring more attention to the issues surrounding mental health, after losing his best friend to suicide last year.
“I lost a friend very close to me through mental health so it really hit home for me,” he said.
“I’ve decided every year I’m going to try and do something in his name for mental health.”
The 22-year-old has never done anything like this before but is training hard.
“I get up every day at 4.45am and do push, pull or leg circuits in the gym. Twice a week I try to go to Total Fitness in Walkden and do 35 minutes to an hour on the watt bike,” he said.
“I also cycle to and from work everyday and I am currently training for a boxing fight so I have boxing Monday and Wednesday nights.”
Alongside training for the cycle, Mr Muscat has been preparing for a Pound for Pound Promotions white collar first-time fighters bout at the end of this month, with all proceeds also going to Mind In Salford.
Mr Muscat will begin his journey in England’s capital, and cross through a number of cities across four days to reach Amsterdam, cycling a total of 350 miles.
With a target of £2,000, the Salford fundraiser is already halfway there in terms of money raised, and chose Mind in Salford as he wanted the money to be put to good cause in the city he has grown up in.
“I like the idea of going through different towns and countries seeing the different views,” he said.
“I chose Mind In Salford because if the money is going anywhere, I want it to go to my area.”
And Mr Muscat is a strong believer that we all have a collective responsibility to address mental health issues, outlining the power of social media.
“I can’t stress enough how much the awareness needs to be increased,” he said.
“You may never know that someone is suffering close to you and you reposting that one page with a bit of info on it about mental health might catch their eye and help massively.
“I believe we all have our own struggles and people deal with them differently, some better than others. This is why I think we all need to keep an eye on each other as some just aren’t as mentally capable to cope,” said the 22-year-old.
Recent studies have found that men are three times as likely to die from suicide than women.
With almost 5,000 males committing suicide in 2018, Mr Muscat said: “The typical male stigma is that we are depended on by families for example.
“Males are meant to be seen as proud and strong who can handle anything, but it can be that pride that makes them keep their struggles to themselves.”
And for those battling with mental health, Mr Muscat offered some motivational words.
“Remember you are not alone. Reach out to your friends and family and let them help you,” he said.
“It’s a lonely road and doesn’t have to be done on your own.”