1756. Mark Crossley
Mark Crossley, from Barnsley, is a former professional footballer who set up the mental health campaign #WalkingIsBrilliant where thousands of people walk and talk and share videos online with the hashtag to help promote better wellbeing.
Mark set up the campaign because of his own struggle with depression following his retirement from professional football. Walking was a huge source of support for Mark, and he realised it could serve as a means for helping others start conversations about wellbeing, and collectively lower levels of stress and anxiety through gentle exercise and connections with the outdoors. Mark set up #WalkingIsBrilliant as a social media campaign, recording videos of his walks and encouraging others to share their own online, which has since grown into a foundation ‘Walking and Talking Charity Hikes (WATCH)’, raising awareness of mental health and over £80,000 in aid of NHS and mental health charities through sponsored walks.
Mark’s award comes ahead of World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October, the internationally recognised day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.
In a personal letter to Mark, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Congratulations and on the fantastic success of ‘Walking is Brilliant’. From hashtags to hikes, and through walking and talking, you have created a remarkable online community where people can share how they feel. It is a wonderful tribute to your former teammate who sadly lost his life.
“Mental ill health can affect anyone and so it is brilliant that you have harnessed social media to connect people far and wide.”
“I am absolutely over the moon and I’m honoured to receive this award as group leader of Walking and Talking Charity Hikes (WATCH), #walkingsbrilliant and supporting mental health, helping others is really important to us at WATCH.”