John Bloodworth, also known as ‘Gentleman Crafter’, is visiting all 92 historic UK counties in a motorhome, crafting with communities along the way. The adventure is in a bid to raise £20,000 for Mind, a UK-based registered mental health charity, and to spread creativity across the nation.

Sponsored by Peterborough’s Create and Craft TV, John is living and travelling in a motorhome named Maisy, visiting craft groups, organising workshops and sharing his crafting knowledge, all while promoting Mind.

John (43) has suffered periods of severe depression and anxiety disorder in his life and has found Mind to be a valuable resource in understanding his condition and finding ways to move forward in life. He started his adventure when he departed from Create and Craft’s office in Peterborough at 2pm on Monday 25th April 2016, where he was bid au revoir, by former colleagues and supporters. So far he has raised over £8000 in just a few months and has visited 22 counties.

John is holding the craft workshop from 10am to 3.30pm on Wednesday 28th September 2016 at Craftsite, 6i Admiral Business Park, Nelson Industrial Estate, Cramlington, Northumberland. For details on how to book, click here:https://gentlemancrafter.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/all-counties-craft-challenge-group-workshop-craftsite-cramlington-northumberland/

Commenting John said: “I am excited to be returning to the beautiful County of Northumberland which I visited back in August, and I am delighted to be able to undertake this challenge in order to spread creativity and raise money for Mind as both are close to my heart and have meant a lot to me in the past. Having Create and Craft TV sponsor the challenge is also an honour as they are one of the longest established craft companies in the UK and they, and their audience, share my view that creative pastimes can have a positive impact on your mood.”

Further explaining the reason for developing the challenge John added, “A while ago I hit rock-bottom and suffered an extended period where my mental health difficulties began emerging as physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating and being short of breath. This was terrifying as I had never experienced this before. I didn’t open the curtains, I couldn’t answer the phone – I felt totally isolated and didn’t know what to do.

“Fortunately, I discovered the Mind website and was able to identify reasons why this might be happening and different ways in which I could potentially tackle these new issues. As a result of this information I went to my doctor and, after a discussion about the symptoms and potential causes we looked at available options. I was initially prescribed medication which would have the benefit of reducing my overall distress and thereby provide a calmer thinking space in which to seek further support from local talking therapy services. My recovery was then monitored by my GP who recommended adjustments as time progressed. I am not sure that I would have done this without having first found Mind as I was initially too scared and embarrassed to discuss what was happening with anyone.

“Over a period of time, I reached a point where I could look back and understand what had happened and I would now like to reach out and help others. I know from my own personal experience that crafting can be very therapeutic and lots of fun. I’m hoping this motorhome trip will promote the benefits of crafting, raise awareness of mental health and, in turn, raise valuable funds for Mind.”

Speaking about the progress of the challenge so far John says, “Most of the people who have attended the workshops so far have heard of Mind, but they’re not always aware of the scope of what Mind does. It has therefore been rewarding to have provided the opportunity in which to have this conversation as it’s not something we would ordinarily discuss in day to day life.”

Vicky Urquhart, Community Fundraising Co-ordinator, at Mind says: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to John for taking to the road for this amazing challenge and choosing to fundraise for Mind. It has been amazing to see the support John has had on his journey already. We know that many people find craft activities to be great for their mental health, because it can be very therapeutic and rewarding.

“In just a few months John has already raised over £8000. This is a phenomenal amount of money which will go towards funding our vital work supporting those living with a mental health problem. This includes the Mind Infoline, our advice services and the campaigning Mind does to secure a better deal for the one in four of us who experience a mental health problem every year.”