Former commando Sean Good readily admits to shedding a tear when he thinks of friends he’s lost in active combat and its aftermath.
It’s probably what makes the lead fundraiser and organiser of one of the UK’s fastest-growing Distinguished Gentleman’s Rides (DGR) determined to give something back. He still suffers night terrors, recurring dreams and reels every time he hears a loud noise, but he’s a talker, comfortable with sharing his feelings. Sadly, many men aren’t.
Like the buddy tormented by the horrors of war who took his own life, adding to the damning statistic that three in every four suicides are men. Sean has been tackling this issue by raising £35,000 over the past four years at the Bristol DGR.
“One in eight men in the UK have experienced a mental health problem and the figure is close to that globally, but by getting together at events like DGR we are encouraging them to talk, listen and act,” he says.
“I still have nightmares about some of the things I saw but thank my lucky stars that I can talk about things with my family and friends, but for many men it’s not that easy. But it should be.”
DGR: an antidote to depression
Sean, besotted by his new Thruxton R’s “classic styling and retro cafe racer vibe”, believes riding’s place as an antidote to depression is what makes the annual dapper day out such a powerful force in the battle to improve men’s health. His ride, which started with just 15 people and raised £1,000, now attracts close to 400 and last year brought in £15,000 to help fund cutting-edge research into prostate cancer, men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
“Have fun… raise more”
“The aims have always been to have fun and raise more than the previous year, so it’s quite simple: come along on your classic bike and if you can’t get sponsorship, at least donate £10 to yourself because you never know if you might benefit from it further down the line,” he says.
“The friendships we have made on the day have helped create other riding groups that run throughout the year. We talk a lot on the phone when we’re not riding and are a support network, so it’s a very proactive thing. We all know that if we haven’t heard from one of the guys for a week or two, we’ll give them a call.”
Don’t feel hollow inside
Sean is indebted to Triumph for its ‘deeds not words’ in actively supporting the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, which is funding a string of programmes around the world: “They have recognised they have a role to play in helping men live happier, longer lives and have unstintingly supported DGR as a platform and through merchandise sales.
“DGR and Triumph are strongly linked, which is great and it will be even greater if more people raise more money this year. If people turn up, enjoy the day and ride without contributing, then I’d have thought that would leave them feeling a little hollow inside.”
Sean has no idea how many men’s lives he has saved through the money and awareness generated from his ride, but adds: “If they were to stand here in a line in front of me, it would make it a very tangible thing, but the reality is if we have saved just one man’s life and his family are still enjoying him today, that’s good enough for me.”