Inspired to make a difference to Men’s Mental Health across Australia
In 2009, Les Hancock, Queensland business leader, was shocked to learn that the suicide rate of remote outback Queensland graziers was 30% higher than their coastal counterparts.
Coincidentally, at the same time on a long drive from Brisbane to Longreach, Les became aware of a Melbourne man who was suffering depression and was riding from Melbourne to Cairns to promote awareness of men’s mental health – with the simple message of ‘’talk to your doctor’’.
Learning of both these situations, Les, who is actively involved in dealing with men from a professional standpoint everyday across Australia, was inspired to help make a difference to men’s mental health. His vision would be to lead a biennial charity bike ride from Brisbane to Longreach, raising funds from fellow corporate/professional colleagues and organisations, to help the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) with their primary care program for men in the Outback.
RideWest was born 3 phone calls later, when Les inspired the hearts and minds of son Damian (a passionate cyclist, running his own cycling apparel business, a’qto), business associate and friend Brendan Wright (again, a passionate cyclist and in senior ranks with NAB, and now FAST), and partner Mark Dillman (business partner at BCI Law, now M&K Lawyers QLD). All three men, together with wife Shelley, bought into Les’ vision and were integral in kicking off the RideWest inaugural ride in May 2010.
According to Les and Shelley Hancock, RideWest engages the hearts of organisations and bike riding employees within those organisations who:
- strive to challenge themselves and achieve excellence in supporting the community;
- share a passion and appreciation for the benefits of cycling at both a mental and physical health level; and
- recognise the power of corporate charity bike rides as a community engagement, corporate social responsibility and marketing vehicle, reaching a significant market of 30-60 year old men and women from across Australia;
Now in its 4th year, Les and Shelley Hancock, together with a growing number of sponsors and partners, are proud to see the event growing – with funds raised increasing from $152k in 2010, to $202k in 2012, and reaching a combined total in excess of $500k following the 2014 ride, the goal for 2016 is another $200k to take the grand total to $700k.
I will always be thankful for the call I received from Les Hancock in July 2009 when he shared with me his vision for RideWest. It has without doubt, been life changing for me and for those involved, and the beneficiaries of the significant funds that have been raised.
“RideWest is a unique, well established and managed cycling and charity event and has been highly fulfilling from a personal, business, and community perspective. The Ridewest Committee is extremely committed and passionate about the event and raising money and awareness for men’s mental health in Australia. As a rider, I have been able to participate and connect with others, while being treated like a professional on a tour. From a business perspective I have generated enormous value and brand recognition with my staff and clients through fundraising, events and training for the event. But most importantly contributing to raising funds for men’s mental health and making a real difference to the people and their communities”.
Brendan Wright, CEO – FAST
Whether you are a corporate organisation looking to give back to the community in an effective and tangible way, a small business with a charitable focus, a cyclist who loves a challenge or one of the many people across Australia touched by the work of the RFDS, there are a number of ways you can get involved.
We’d love to hear from you so please contact us anytime on firstname.lastname@example.org or call John Sloman on (07) 3221 2416.