Andy grew up in a small village in South Wales where he would run around in the woods playing soldiers and generally loving the outdoor life.He turned his child hood dreams into a reality when he joined the British Army to pursue a full career of 22 years. His career took him all over the world on operational tours, training exercises, sporting events and courses.Throughout his time in the Army, Andy had a secret.
A secret that he kept to himself until the pressure of holding it in got too much to bear. He suffered with poor mental health. Scared that any admission would see him labelled as weak and would hinder his career, Andy did what many other men do in a similar situation – he put on a mask.
Part of this mask was denial, he would deny that anything was wrong to those closest to him, his family, his friends and his colleagues. All the while maintaining that ‘tough guy’ exterior that he thought he had to portray.
This act took several twists and turns taking him very close to the end of the road on more than one occasion.
Following the loss of a close friend to suicide, Andy started to talk to groups of people about his journey and the pain following his mates death. He started to share the message that ‘it’s not weak to speak’ and that by talking about what troubles us with others, we can often find a way through the dark times and back into the light.
Andy now shares his story regularly, as a plenary speaker for Mental Health First Aid (England) on their instructor courses and has shared his story with a whole range of businesses.
Andy embodies so many qualities that are vital to progressing the conversation around mental health forward. He is one of those guys who you simply wouldn’t expect to open up and share his feelings. That’s where his power is, he disarms his audiences with a commanding stage presence and with the power and vulnerability in what he shares. Challenging the stigma around mental health and masculinity is what excels in. If you want a speaker who can speak directly to men without pulling any punches, a speaker who can share openly about mental health a speaker who can show emotional leadership? Andy is your guy!