In 2014 Everton fan Mick Cullen completed a swim across the English Channel, raising thousands of pounds for charity. Since then, he’s regularly raised funds in his swimming trunks at Everton matches-both home and away- earning him the nickname Speedo Mick. The fundraiser and Pride of Sport winner talks about his most nerve-wracking moments, the reactions he’s recieved on the other side of the Channel and gives advice to those thinking about starting their own fundraising journey.
What inspired you to swim the Channel?
I wanted to try and do something extraordinary in my life, so I decided my extraordinary challenge would come in the shape of an attempt to swim one of the most challenging swims on the the planet–the English Channel. I had never had a swimming lesson, but I could swim so I really did have my work cut out. I immediately booked the boat, so I then had 2 years to get myself ready.
Did you expect to gain this much notoriety when you started fundraising at matches?
Absolutely not, the fundraising was always my priority but as you know it went nuts. I simply wanted to raise a few quid for charity and give back to the community- but of course because of my attire it attracted a lot of attention, all positive I’m really glad to say. I can’t thank all the football fans enough for their support, especially the Everton fans.
What’s been your best experience while fundraising?
There are so many positive experiences over the past 4 years but on a personal level I will never forget the day I was made Everton fan of a year. I’d take that over a knighthood any ol’ time.
Which was more nerve-wracking- swimming the Channel or showing up to your first match in speedos?
Thats easy, I was shaking like a leaf when I first turned up in my speedos at Goodison Park. Swimming the channel was a doddle compared to the first Tom in my pants 🤣👍
What advice would you give to someone who wants to raise money for a cause close to their heart?
I would simply tell them to go for it. I think that the practice of helping others- whether it’s loved ones or someone who is less fortunate- gives the fundraiser themselves so much self-worth. I would highly recommend it.
You walked from Liverpool to Lyon to raise money for Alder Hey- do you think the response you got in France was different than the one you got at home?
I honestly expected the French to have no sense of humour as this is what they are renowned for. So, I was very wary indeed, but when I got over there the French thought it was hilarious, as did the Gendarme 🤣
Do you have any fundraising plans for the near future?
I do have a massive fundraising challenge planned this year, I am in training for it now, but I am no spring chicken and I have quite a few injuries i.e. my knee and my foot, but I am desperately trying to iron them out. But it will be one hell of a challenge. It will be a 3-thousand-mile walk- all in my Blue knickers of course, how else would I do it 😜
Interview by Fern Stocks