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Time to take the plunge with the Loony Dookers in Badenoch and Strathspey

By Gavin Musgrove

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Glen Tonkin and Suzy Bashford are smashing the stigma often associated with mental health issues.
Glen Tonkin and Suzy Bashford are smashing the stigma often associated with mental health issues.

Two entrepreneurs in the strath have joined forces to create a mental health podcast to plug the current 'gaping gap' in support.

The podcast by Glen Tonkin, boss of Toncam Flooring and Interiors in Kingussie, and Kincraig podcaster Suzy Bashford, of Big Juicy Creative, is called “Loony Dookers”.

It got the name because the pair are often described as “loony” for their shared love of cold water swimming, particularly in winter with sledgehammers.

Loony Dookers podcasts aims to smash stigmas around mental health and start a more honest conversation while also signposting listeners to potential people, places and tips they could benefit from.

It will feature honest, often humorous discussions between the duo on topics from the pros and cons of therapy, to suicidal thoughts, to whether puppies are good for stress relief.

Mr Tonkin said: “There are not enough honest conversations about mental health going on in our area.

“And, while things have improved, there are still many people suffering in silence, especially in the shinty world where there have been some tragic suicides. As a player and depression sufferer, I’m determined to use my experiences for good.”

Mrs Bashford said: “Like Glen I’m keen to use my adverse experiences of mental health to help others especially when waiting lists are currently so long and it’s hard to get therapeutic support.

"Our aim is to create a sense of community and connection around these honest conversations – connections are shown to be the best antidote to poor mental health.”

The podcast builds on Mr Tonkin’s previous work setting up local community group ‘Hello There’ pre- Covid, which brought people together to open up the conversation about mental health.

He ran several events in Newtonmore and Kingussie and set up the Facebook page which will now be relaunched, Hello There (https://www.facebook.com/hellotherebadenochandstrathspey).

On the back of the Loony Dookers podcast, the duo will be organising occasional events to bring people together.

For example, one of the launch expert interviewees is Carrie Wilde, a yoga teacher with a special interest in using yoga to process difficult emotions. The trio are currently discussing a taster event for locals.

Loony Dookers podcast should now be available on all major platforms including Spotify, Amazon, Google and Apple.

Can you help?

As this is a voluntary project done in spare time around jobs, young families and puppies, the pair would really appreciate any offers of help to get the word out there and to take charge of tasks like social media and event organisation.

Get in touch if you can help – either via the Hello There Facebook page or via Big Juicy Creative page on Instagram or Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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