Army veteran wins Male Role Model Award in Northamptonshire for founding Talk Mental Health charity

Competition was so fierce that the special recognition award went to two people as the judges could not agree on one

Friday, 26th November 2021, 9:15 am

West Northamptonshire Council's Male Role Model Awards have returned for their third year, crowning an army veteran as this year's winner.

The awards celebrate individuals who go above and beyond in their daily lives to help others and make a real difference in their communities. Just five candidates were shortlisted from more than 80 potential winners.

These included Peter Smith, head of Newbottle and Charlton Primary School; Quinton Green founder of Knife Crime Victim Support; Steve Bishop a member of the Northamptonshire Litter Wombles and Lee Lewis, co-founder of The Lewis Foundation.

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Nick Wilson is this year's winner.

Ultimately, Nick Wilson was named winner of the ‘Inspirational Man’ award for his work as a mental health advocate.

After 14 years of service in the Army with multiple deployments around the globe, Nick was left with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a debilitating spinal disorder resulting in seven pro-lapse discs and a constant battle with chronic pain.

Through his daily fight with both physical and mental disabilities, Nick openly shares his journey for the benefit of others, seeking to inform, inspire and empower others to better manage their own mental wellbeing.

He continually thinks of others, regardless of his own battles, and founded a men’s support group, Talk Mental Health, during the pandemic which has already helped over 150 people.

The male role model award.

Nick said: “This award means so very much to me.

"We’ve all been through some horrendously tough times over the past twenty months and this award is dedicated to all those courageous warriors, who’ve faced up to and accepted their own realities and overcame their challenges to begin thriving in life once again, opposed to merely existing and surviving in it.”

Nick received many nominations with one saying: “Nick is a mental health advocate with a difference, in that he has a daily battle with his own mental health and disability and yet is consistently there for others, mentoring, coaching, and nurturing them in a way which shows just how much he understands about how devastating mental health (and disabilities) can be.

"His campaigning truly speaks from the heart, his most recent video campaign to Government resonated with so many people and will, if heard, change many lives by ensuring the right support can be funded for those who find themselves in need.”

Toby Birch was one of two winners of the special recognition award, sharing it with Joseph Dooley.

Mr Birch was integral to starting and chairing Community Spaces Northampton (CSN) in 2011, as well as being chair of Rectory Farm Residents Association, trustee for Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire, and is a tireless advocate for the voluntary sector.

Meanwhile Joseph Dooley did a sponsored litter pick at just aged six, collecting 11 bags of rubbish over two days and raising a whopping £1,860.

These went to Earth’s Lonely Angels, a Northamptonshire charity supporting individuals and families, and the Gosset Ward at Northampton General Hospital, which cared for Joseph when he poorly after being born.

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, leader of West Northamptonshire Council who presented the awards said: “We received so many deserving nominations of truly inspirational individuals who have made a huge difference to the lives of others and who all deserve to be honoured.

"Every single nominee has our thanks for both the way in which they inspire us all, and for the great things that they do in support of our local community.

“Congratulations to our award winners and all of the shortlisted nominees and thank you to everyone who supported this extremely important event, which not only recognises the contribution of local men and boys, but also raises awareness of the very important issue of male mental health.”

With lockdowns now (hopefully) behind us, it will be interesting to see how next year's candidates stand out from the crowd.