Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

‘A mate did me over for £20k so I walked 4,000 miles to stop myself killing him’

A bloke whose mate "f***ed him over" for over £20,000 in a business deal gone wrong said it was the final straw in a mental health battle that made him embark on a mammoth walk around the UK and Ireland.

Londoner Clive Brown, 52, was living in the capital and working as an electrician when a failed relationship with his ex partner got him into a dark place, before the incident with his former mate compounded his problems.

Clive, speaking exclusively to the Daily Star, admitted he began spiralling and abusing alcohol and drugs.

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He decided to start walking on May 6, 2022, saying that suicidal thoughts made him set out days later from a beach in St Austell, Cornwall, after getting rid of all his possessions.

"I was going to commit suicide, basically," he said. "One of the things that pushed me towards the walk was that a mate ripped me off for a lot of money, about £20,000. I basically wanted to kill him.

"There was some nastiness inside of me that wouldn’t go away and I didn’t like that, and I’m not like that as a person.

"But obviously my relationship had broken down as well so I was bitter and I was drinking and abusing substances too, so I wasn’t very clear-headed.

"I was a bit worried of what I was going to do. I knew it was going to be disastrous for me."

Clive's journey is about visibility and people opening up about their own mental health as and when he meets them. He is also raising money for men's mental health charity Mind.

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Clive added he had a chat with a friend who had also experienced dark thoughts and they decided together they would be hurting other people by going through with ending their lives.

"Me speaking to someone and hearing yourself say it, hearing it out loud, that was my epiphany," he said.

Days later he was "off into the unknown" as he put it. That journey has so far taken him 4,000 miles around England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

After he set off from Cornwall he did the west coast of England and the Isle of Man too.

Clive continued on to Skegness on the east coast where he worked on a farm for a couple of months and then on to Newcastle, then Cumbria back on the west coast.

Next he headed for Robin Hood’s Bay near Whitby, in North Yorkshire, and did the coast to coast walk to end up – again – on the west coast.

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It was then, via Keswick, that he headed for Stranraer in Scotland to catch the ferry to Larne, Northern Ireland, making it all the way around the north coast and down through Donegal in the north west of Ireland, down into Galway and then across to Dublin.

He spoke to the Star after getting a ferry from Dublin back to the UK where he has paused his journey to earn money by working at a slate mine in Cumbria.

"My boots are falling apart, my tent broke, so it was a timely intermission. I need to get some money to get back on the road," he said.

"It is a little bit weird to be still. I’m a little bit stir-crazy because obviously I’m working and in the same place all the time. But the people here are great."

Clive said he’ll be working for around six weeks before resuming his journey.

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He said it’s been “very difficult physically” but road walking allows him to “be visible” and share his story, thus allowing other people to open up too.

“It’s been very rewarding,” he said.

Clive added people have made him packed lunches, invited him in for tea, let him stay in their homes and offered him lifts everywhere he has been, especially in Ireland.

"It’s really heartwarming, like you walk past someone and they’ll walk up to their garden gate and go ‘do you fancy a cup of tea?’ and hundreds of people offer you a lift, and of course a Guinness," he said.

Clive said he’s now completely sober and is reconnecting with his family. His 12-year-old son will be visiting him for a week and he is trying to organise a meeting with his sister and elderly mother.

He estimates he has walked, or rambled, over 4,000 miles, using a daily average.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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