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‘Pedal the Prem’: Wasps fan gets on his bike for men’s mental health

Stu Baker

A Wasps supporter and ex-rugby player who brought himself back from the brink of suicide twice is cycling to every Premiership club’s stadium to raise awareness of men’s mental health.

Stuart Baker, from Alvechurch, is cycling a total of 750 miles in six days and stopping off at 13 stadiums, including Twickenham – to encourage men to talk about how they are feeling.

“I kept my emotions to myself for the best part of ten years and I’ve been on the bridge before where I’ve come close to ending my own life, so I want to help men to not be in the situation that I found myself in,” said Stuart, who has experienced depression and anxiety for the past 19 years.

“My mental health took a real turn for the worse when I retired from rugby eight years ago which is when I tried to take my own life on two occasions but opening up about my emotions helped.

“My main aim with this cycle ride is to primarily say to men that if they are feeling down and feel like they need help, to go and confide in somebody – you can be a man mountain on the pitch and deliver big hits for 80 minutes but still have your demons off the pitch.

“And what better way to speak to men than through the rugby arena?

“I am taking on the challenge with my friends John, Darren and Paul, and the support we have had so far has been brilliant. We are also being joined by ex-Wasps player Paul Sampson and former Great Britain Paralympian Darren Kenny for part of the adventure.

“I still have bad days but I now live my life by what I call the ‘The Mindset Triangle’ by striking a balance between sleep, healthy eating and exercise – and if this sort of approach can rub off on other people, then the challenge will have been worth it.

“I live in Alvechurch now but I am a Coventry boy and grew up in Croft Pool in Bedworth, so I’m really excited to be finishing the journey on home turf in front of thousands of people.”

Stuart and his travelling contingent will also be raising money for mental health charity Mental Health UK, and Restart Rugby which is a charity providing support to ill and injured rugby players.

And Wasps will be welcoming Stuart and his group to Ricoh Arena where they will take to the pitch at half-time to talk about their challenge, which has also received video messages of support from World Cup winner Will Greenwood and David Flatman.

For more information about Stuart’s challenge in October visit www.pedaltheprem.com

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