The Mayor of Derry meets Speedo Mick


But their eyes weren’t fooling them, as the man in the skinny swimsuit was none other than Speedo Mick aka Michael Cullen, the Liverpool fundraising hero who is currently in the midst of a gigantic # 2000MileGivingBackTour of five months across the UK and Ireland to hand out money raised from his previous adventures – as well as raise even more.

Today his trek takes him from Ballykelly to Co Donegal and he met the Mayor of Derry on his way.

The mayor posted on Facebook: “Great to welcome ‘Speedo Mick’ to Guildhall Square ‍♂️ In his latest charity challenge, Michael, a big Everton fan, is currently doing his # 2000MileGivingBackTour in the UK and Ireland, collecting funds for important issues such as homelessness, mental health and disadvantaged youth.

Speedo Mick is traveling to Larne from Belfast as part of his charity hike.

Speedo Mick is traveling to Larne from Belfast as part of his charity hike.

“It was a pleasure meeting and chatting with him this morning – keep it up.”

A lifelong Everton supporter (the name is engraved on his swim pants), Mick Cullen has traveled this week from Larne to Waterfoot to Ballycastle. At an average of 18.5 miles per day, today’s leg of his journey will end in Newtoncunningham, Co. Donegal. From there he will walk further south, before completing his fundraising odyssey in Dublin.

A former drug addict, Cullen spent much of his youth homeless. After overcoming his difficulties (with the help of others) he decided to give something back and in 2004 raised £ 2,000 for a homeless shelter by swimming in the English Channel.

Since then, Cullen has maintained the fundraising momentum, with the SpeedoMick Foundation raising some £ 650,000 for charity, providing support to young people through education, poverty alleviation or support to mental and physical health.

Speedo Mick said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has strained the finances of so many worthy charities, so I will do whatever I can to help. Homelessness and disadvantaged youth are two issues that are close to my heart as I have been through these struggles and know how hard it is to come out on the other side.

Its SpeedoMick Foundation website explains: “Today I am part of something that has given me back my self-esteem, my self-confidence, my humility and my sense of belonging. The Speedo Mick Foundation is a registered charity that gives back to the community in need of help and support and today I and our team are able to provide that support.

“It wasn’t always like that for me. For a long time, I needed the same help and support that I now offer others. I was the homeless person you see at the door of the store, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the hopeless case who had made so many bad decisions there was surely no turning back.

“I made these terrible decisions in my life in order to block the pain I was feeling inside.

“I saw no way out. I had become isolated from society and left on my own, I made matters worse. I was no longer part of my family and I had nothing to contribute to my community. I made these terrible decisions in my life in order to block the pain I was feeling inside and as a result I took no responsibility and blamed everyone for the position I was in. I was so entrenched in my self-defeating patterns that I had lost sight of as the compassionate, loving person I had always hoped to be.

“I had mostly been abandoned by my community and by my family and friends. Not because they didn’t want to help me, but because they had tried to help me so many times without success that in the end it seemed in vain to try. I had to accept help from others, the power was in my hands and the decision had to be made by me first, except I needed help going deep inside to find the glow of hope that remained and I could come back and become the man I dreamed of being and fulfill my ambition to once again be a part of my loving family and a productive member of my community and society as a whole.

Now, not only has he accomplished this, but the ambition to be part of a loving family and productive member of the community has been satisfied and surpassed time and time again as he continues to help others, this time through the # 2000MileGivingBackTour of UK and Ireland.

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