A CHARITY hero made the greatest fashion statement of all time as he walked through the Rebel county wearing just a pair of speedos.
Liverpool man Michael Cullen, known affectionally to the public as Speedo Mick, set out on his Giving Back Tour covering the UK and now Ireland to distribute €250,000 to local charities along the way.
The charismatic advocate first started his fundraising efforts with a swim across the English Channel.
However, the Liverpudlian decided he couldn’t part with the speedos and is now parading the fashion item in a bid to cheer people up.
While the advocate’s fundraising efforts may be tongue-in-cheek, he stressed that they also have an important message.
He now views the speedos as a symbol of vulnerability.
Speedo Mick was in contact with Cork charities ahead of the latest leg of his tour which commenced in Cork yesterday.
Speaking ahead of the latest leg, which includes a walk from Charleville to Cork city, Speedo Mick said:
“I was the hopeless case sitting in the doorway. I suffered from addiction, self-loathing and everything else that went with that. I could never say I fought back but what I did do was surrender.
“I surrendered to someone else’s idea of how to live. I found recovery over 19 years okay when I was told that you could only keep what you have by giving it away.
“Back then I never understood what that meant but now that I do I try to give away as much as possible.
“However, it’s me who gets back the spiritual dollars. This walk isn’t just about fundraising. It’s about raising smiles and connecting with people.”
Mr Cullen said he could never have envisioned himself wearing speedos among friends, never mind publicly.
“Before, when I was told I could only swim the Channel wearing speedos I refused and tried to persuade them to let me wear my shorts instead.
“We’ve all had those dreams where we find ourselves in public in our underwear but this is what I’m doing every day. It’s all about the power of being vulnerable. I’d like to encourage as many people as possible to open up and be vulnerable too.”
Speedo Mick’s charity Leave the Light On, runs community projects for disadvantaged people of all ages and has an emphasis on mental health and positivity.
The Everton fan will clock up more than 1,000 miles on his journey and also hopes to meet with some long-lost family.
“I have cousins in Cork who I’m really looking forward to meeting,” he said.
The Liverpool native has been overwhelmed by the positive reaction from strangers.
There are people who say ‘you have made such a difference to me’ and ‘do you mind if I walk with you?’
“One woman told me that I saved her life after she heard me talking on the radio and that meant so much.
“Every day you don’t talk to someone that weight you are carrying around gets heavier. That’s why I’ve been picking up a stone to put in my bag every day of the walk.
“It’s a good reminder of what that extra weight can feel like.
“My bag has become very heavy now but this is nothing compared to what people are carrying around because of reasons like a fear of rejection.”
Anyone wishing to donate to Speedo Mick’s Giving Back Tour can do so by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/f/speedomick