A big-hearted Scottish training officer is saddling up for the cycling challenge of a lifetime to raise funds for an industry charity which helped him face his own mental health issues.
Frankie Greig, who oversees apprentices for the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT), is preparing to pedal a gruelling 200 miles from Venice to Milan in the Italian Lakes Cycle Event 2023 to raise money for the Electrical Industries Charity (EIC).
The 41-year-old will push his way from the Adriatic Coast through searing plains and up forested hills past the famous Lombardy lakes of Como, Garda and Iseo, testing his legs on climbs of more than 750m as he aims to smash his £2,200 fundraising target.
Frankie says, “The EIC is wonderful and supports so many people, and indeed helped me on my own journey to better health and wellbeing, so I wanted to do something in return and also raise awareness of depression, anxiety and suicide in our industry.
“I’ve been battling mental health issues for a number of years and also lost my best friend to similar issues some years ago, so it’s vital for people to know that help is out there if you need it.
“There really are some wonderful, caring people who are more than willing to guide you through the tough times. It’s so important to take that first step and speak to someone – there’s nothing so bad that it can’t be fixed, and I’d rather hear someone’s problems than read their obituary.”
He continues, “I still have a ton of work to do so I’m taking personal training sessions at my David Lloyd gym in Hamilton and am also following a nutrition plan as well as attending spin classes to keep the legs moving.
“Before I started, I was the heaviest I’d have ever been, but I want to get my weight down considerably and change my way of life entirely. I know there’s a tough road ahead, but I have to do it for the sake of my family and ensure I have a longer and healthier life.”
SECTT has donated to Frankie’s fund-raising efforts along with SELECT.
Alan Wilson, Managing Director of SELECT, says, “We are very happy as an organisation to support Frankie in his challenge, and we applaud his personal courage in being willing to speak out about issues which sometimes, tragically, remain hidden.
“The electrical sector, and the construction industry as a whole, has become much more aware of the importance of mental health, especially since the pandemic, and has redoubled its efforts to support our people and maintain their wellbeing.
“Frankie has taken on a big task, but he has the heart and spirit for it, and we are sure he will meet his targets – and enjoy a nice cappuccino in Milan.”
Frankie adds, “As well as my mental health issues, I also have a lifelong disease called ulcerative colitis and last year almost lost my dad to heart issues at the same time as my mum went into full-time care because of her Alzheimer’s.
“I’ve hit so many obstacles and heartbreak, but I knew enough was enough and I had to make a drastic change and do something before I become a statistic too.
“I’ve learned that it’s important to take time out for yourself and do the things that you enjoy. For me it’s my bike and after coming back from a long ride I feel mentally refreshed and happier.”