Why one Scottish man is doing a kilt walk every month across a whole year

Stuart Bowie, who works for Natwest’s technology team in Edinburgh, is raising money for suicide prevention charity Andy’s Man Club, by undertaking a ‘kilt walk’ every month for the next year.

Walking 300 miles in a kilt is nothing compared to the strength it takes for men to reach out about their mental health – something Edinburgh man Stuart Bowie knows all too well.

“For a long time I was completely unaware that I had mental health issues,” the 35-year-old says.

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“I was just lucky that I had someone very close to me point out a few things and opened my eyes to the possibility that something may be wrong.

Stuart Bowie is undertaking a ‘kilt walk’ every month for the next year in aid of Andy's Man ClubStuart Bowie is undertaking a ‘kilt walk’ every month for the next year in aid of Andy's Man Club
Stuart Bowie is undertaking a ‘kilt walk’ every month for the next year in aid of Andy's Man Club

“I’m one of those people who likes routine, I like separating my work and home life. So I really struggled being stuck at home during the first lockdowns. Things really came to a head and I had to take some time out.”

Mr Bowie, who works for NatWest’s technology team, is now raising money for suicide prevention charity Andy’s Man Club, by undertaking a ‘kilt walk’ every month for the next year.

He’s already undertaken six kilt walks – in Stirling, Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders, Glasgow, Prague and Aberdeen – and is set to travel to Berlin at the end of June for his seventh.

Andy’s Man Club helped Mr Bowie when he was at his lowest.

“Even though my mental health and wellbeing had improved a bit, I saw a post on social media and decided to go to a meeting down at the North Merchiston Club in Edinburgh,” he said.

“I’ve always struggled with talking to people about my mental health over the years. I sometimes struggle to talk to people in general to be honest.

“There are a lot of people out there, men in particular I think, who struggle to talk about certain things going on in their life. So it’s been such a blessing to have found somewhere that I can relax, but also somewhere that I can open up a bit more easily, without the fear of being judged in any way.”

Mr Bowie is keen to emphasise just how much of a difference the club has made to him personally and the others who attend.

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“No one should live in fear of not being able to share or talk to others, of being judged or feel like they are being a burden,” he says.

“I felt a massive weight being lifted off my shoulders ever since the first time I went there, and each time since. I see it in others too, and the support in that room each week is something very special.”

Although the realisation of his issues led to the end of a relationship, Mr Bowie says he is grateful for the fact it gave him time for self-reflection and motivation to seek help.

“I decided I had to do something about it,” he says. “So I went through counselling, various lifestyle changes, support sessions, and wellbeing and mindfulness work too.

“I’m pleased to say my mental health is in a much better place than it used to be. I was in a terrible state back then and I can guarantee that my circumstances would be very different today, if I hadn't taken those early steps.”

Stuart’s GoFundMe page is here.

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