“…community, nature and quality time is something that we all need.”
Abbie: (continued) Following that I went on to marine debris. We live near the coast so I filmed marine debris on the beaches - my mission was to highlight these issues, coupled with actionable steps that we can take to make a difference. During this time I was running my own production company making short films for businesses but struggling with my mental health, so gradually my mission statement morphed from encouraging people to protect the natural environment to now working to inspire and empower individuals to get outside for the benefit of mental and physical health, whilst building meaningful connections with the natural world and with each other. It's been a long journey, starting with that environmental aspect and now really helping people to access the outdoors. Film is the medium through which I communicate my story, natures story and other people’s stories; I’m a big believer that stories bring people together and create meaningful communities.
Tanith: You have received lots of recognition and awards since you began but which of your projects means the most to you and why?
Abbie: This month we were at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and won an award for our short film ‘Rise Above The Fear’. That's something I'm really proud of because me and my partner produced it together, documenting my fear of water which stems from my mental health journey. It’s hard to pick what I'm proudest of because it doesn't come down to the production, it comes down to the experience I've gone through and the journey that the film was documenting.
I'll never forget my climb on Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014. I’d just finished A Level exams and a week or so later was on a plane flying across Nairobi. It was incredible and something that’s shaped me as who I am. I approach every trip with an open heart and mind. I wouldn’t be who I am without each journey. To give you an example, there's a Coast to Coast Trail across the UK, and I call it ‘Embrace the Journey’ because that’s what I learned, another ‘Choosing Joy in the Ordinary’ and another 'Learning to Thrive’. One was called ‘Alive’ which was my journey around Tour du Mont Blanc. I love the Alps and the Lake District is a very special place. It’s a bit of everything. I'm very proud of it all, those moments are the absolute solid foundation of this journey and I'm grateful for every opportunity I've been able to take.
Tanith: Spend More Time In The WILD was established in 2016 to inspire and empower people to enjoy time outside for the benefit of improving mental and physical health. How has this impacted your own mental health and wellbeing?
Abbie: To put it very simply WILD has kept me alive over and over again. It was forged out of my deepest darkest place. I’m a trained personal trainer and very passionate about physical well being but I found that working in a gym environment wasn't coupling well with my mental wellbeing. I needed something that gave me reasons to stay alive. So that was how WILD was born. The first project I undertook in 2016 was to walk all of the UK’s National Trails. They’re designated long distance footpaths across the country, over 2,500 miles in total, I did the first three trails, but then crashed and burned and didn't leave the house for three months because of my mental health, but somehow, that was the beginning of WILD.
WILD is what gets me out of bed when nothing else does. It's everything to me. It's all consuming and really exciting, the greatest blessing of it is that I can steer it wherever I feel. I’m not following a conventional business plan, it's faith led. It's very intuitive, we listen to what our community is asking for and that's where we tend to go next. Before COVID-19 one in four individuals were said to be struggling with their mental health, but throughout COVID-19 The Mental Health Foundation released statistics that one in two of us have had a serious mental health challenge. That’s half the population and that's just in the UK. That's why we really believe in our message and want to reach every household because community, nature and quality time is something that we all need. The design of modern life its that it doesn't create enough space for these essentials. We are hoping to encourage a National mind-shift through our work. 86 AWARENOW / THE OUTSIDE EDITION