THE 2020 Lerwick Up Helly Aa guizer jarl has heralded the “positive impact” being in squads can have on men’s mental health after running a half marathon to raise money for local charity Mind Your Head.
Liam Summers took part in the Great Scottish Run half marathon in Glasgow on 29 September.
He raised over £1,800 for mental health charity Mind Your Head.
Speaking before the run, Summers said that being guizer jarl is “good fun but also hard work – it’s extremely busy and stressful at times”.
He said generally being in Up Helly Aa squads can provide men with positive benefits that are “useful in combating isolation, loneliness, and mental health issues”.
“You get guizers of all ages, from very diverse backgrounds,” Summers said.
“Just in my own squad we have members ranging in age from 16 to 80 with CEOs, social workers, janitors, electricians, postmen, students, and many other trades. Where else would such a wide variety of people have the opportunity to get together to talk and help each other.
“Some of the men who take part in Up Helly Aa squads are not confident and outgoing and many don’t have a strong social network. For a lot of guizers these squads are the only opportunity they have to interact with a network of friends.
“I know a few men who are in this situation and they’ve told me that they really value and rely on the time spent at the meetings with their fellow squad members over the winter months and beyond.”
He said while a lot of squads make props and practice routines, “a lot of time is also spent simply chatting and ‘catching up’ with each other”.
Summers also said that Mind Your Head provides “excellent support and services to people who are struggling and have really raised awareness of mental health issues in Shetland”.
“Many people struggle from time to time and you never know when you may benefit from a service like this,” he added.
“I want to do my bit to help make sure it goes from strength to strength and continues to provide the excellent support that it does for many years to come.”
Mind Your Head service manager Anouska Civico said: “I would like to thank Liam for highlighting the work of Mind Your Head to a potentially new audience and raising much-needed funds. Three cheers for Liam.”