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13 May

Community Conversations - Mick's Story

Earlier this year we launched our Mental Health Awareness campaign, Howstha? where we are helping to increase awareness on the topic of mental health and reduce the associated stigma across communities in Yorkshire.

To help support Mental Health Awareness Week, we caught up with Mick who has volunteered with the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation since 2018, on his experiences of alcohol addiction and mental health. Mick has made great steps to not only improve his own situation, but to help others regain strength in recovery. Read the interview below for more information!

Tell us a bit about yourself…
My name is Mick Rickaby and I am 72 years old. I’m originally from Middlesbrough (Up the Boro) in the North East of England and moved to Huddersfield in 1968. I am a retired Architect, in active recovery from alcohol dependency.
I am interested in sport obviously and do still support Middlesbrough Football Club. Back in the day I used to play football and was actually called up for junior trials at The Boro. I also flirted with Yorkshire CCC trials! Unfortunately, due to a few injuries my career in sport came to an end.
I am interested in gardening and have my own allotment where I grow fruit and vegetables. I have a great interest in people’s behaviour and am more aware of this than I ever used to be. I have a great family who I enjoy spending time with when not in my allotment.

What brought you to the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation?
I was reengaged with cricket as the result of one of my friends who I met in recovery. We had been talking about volunteering together as we had gone through the same recovery programme. Alcohol, actually brought me back to cricket after about 20 years away from the sport.

When I finished playing cricket, that was it. I never went back to the clubs I had played at previously, and I never went back to anywhere I had visited before.

I met with my friend and his wife who had been in touch with the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation about voluntary opportunities and found out about the Yorkies Team who volunteer on match days. The first day attending the training session was a big move for me. Other than visits to the recovery centre I attended, I had not left the house for nearly a year. That was a turning point for me. I started to get my confidence back.

Have you completed any Mental Health related training with the YCF?
I was lucky enough to be selected to attend a Mental Health First Aid course which again was a changing point for me. That got me thinking more about people’s behaviour because the people on that course. I was one of the oldest people if not the oldest on the course. It got me thinking about the reality of mental health and that it wasn’t just personal to me. I had appreciated that by then but it brought it home to me that mental health issues do very much exist and are now recognised.
When I retired in 1996, there was no support or help offered from work. No letter, nothing. It was taboo back then to talk about. My career was finished at 48 years old effectively and I was very career minded.
The course demonstrated how much people have become aware of the massive problems and reality of mental health. Especially in men! It was all young people on the course and amazing to see awareness and enthusiasm. IT was even better to see that for a lot of people it wasn’t just about enthusiasm, it was about making sure people knew things about mental health.

Do you volunteer anywhere else – if so tell us a bit about what this involves?

I volunteer at Project 6 which is a recovery centre for addiction. The ethos there is that you are encouraged through recovery and then prepared for the “afterlife”, i.e. life after addiction. Part of that was starting with the voluntary sector.

I went through the volunteer programme after the recovery programme and gradually started to co facilitate some recovery groups and more recently facilitate some mental health/wellbeing meetings. My role within the group is to establish how people are feeling and to support those within the group and reassure them, emphasise to them that people are there for them. It helps people let a bit of steam off. But I’m there to reassure them that there is a purpose in life. I am there to encourage people to join in and share where it is appropriate and to act as a peer within their support.

I am also helping others at P6 to upcycle furniture to sell this to raise funds for the charity. This is a programme that I started, and head up!

What has your recovery experience been like?

I never forget where I am in my recovery and do not forget how lucky I am. How grateful I am to people like YCF and P6. I never fail to emphasise when I get the opportunity for people to get help and not to be ashamed of whatever addiction or mental health problem that they have or not know they have.

The main thing for me is talking about it without being too intrusive and encouraging, reassuring people. I think sometimes we can talk too much but it’s knowing when it’s appropriate to offer the advice, help and guidance.

I think it shows that this can happen to anyone and it is important to reduce the stigma and judgement to others.

The couple of blips I’ve had I’ve been back to Cellar Trust who provide support for mental health problems. I was referred into them and attended 5/6 sessions who then referred me to P6. At that point my mental health was taking over my addiction.

How has volunteering with the YCF and P6 helped you and would you recommend volunteering to others who are battling with their mental health?
It’s obviously not for everybody but it’s something that is definitely worthwhile considering. It’s something that can be very rewarding but does come with it’s own challenges.
For me, I don’t need to progress with my career but it is great for building confidence, knowing that you are around people who will offer you support, but where I can also offer support to others. It’s quite a comforting environment to be in.
Volunteering with the YCF has got me back into operation. Mind and body. It’s helped increase my confidence and given me another opportunity and resurrected my belief and will to carry on. There is a meaning to life and a purpose to me being around! There is always an opportunity to use whatever life skills I have developed to help others.
It’s given me the belief that you’re never too old to learn and woken me up to the fact that we are only here once and to make the most of it! If you can help people, bl**dy help them!

What will you do within your communities to break the stigma associated with mental health?

Talk about it. I’ll always make myself available to help if people want it and help them realise that by recognising the existence of mental health problems that there is always a means of getting better.
I will continue to take opportunities to study and learn about mental health.

If you would like more information on the YCF’s Howstha? campaign, or would like further information on the courses offered by the YCF in partnership with the Skills Network, contact Beth at


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