I started the BIG BALLS FOUNDATION because of a friend who tragically took his own life, out of the blue, on Boxing Day last year (2018). Leaving behind a heartbroken wife, kids, family and his friends. All still grieving. All still waiting for answers that will just never come.
I started the BIG BALLS FOUNDATION because of my own mental health issues in the past (and sometimes present) and the stark realisation that my whole family have suffered mental health issues through their lives. And that looking around, I see so many people I know who are suffering.
I started the BIG BALLS FOUNDATION because I was just sick of seeing the suffering around me, my own and that of others. And the shame and stigma stopping those affected from seeking the help they clearly need. I want to do my bit for the Mental Health cause. And BIG BALLS is the best I can do.
The BIG BALLS FOUNDATION is also about you, him, her, them. All of us. Because for so so many people, mental health, its issues, its effects, its tragic consequences when not dealt with, are felt by us all.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Most people have their own story on that. But here’s an element of mine. Written in an email to a well known personality, asking if he would become the Ambassador for this BIG BALLS cause.
It is pretty much word for word.
If you read it, you will get where I am coming from. You will read how the life of a great guy ended by his own hands and the pain and bewilderment that leaves. And it is tragically so common.
It is why I started the BIG BALLS FOUNDATION.
Many thanks for giving Nick your email for me to touch base with you about this venture.
And thanks for your initial interest.
We are all firmly behind this venture and believe it has big potential to make a real impact and help alot of people.
So we have the legal, the financial and the drinks industry know-how boxed off. We are looking for Ambassadors and folks with profile biggers than ours, to move this BIG BALLS initiative along with us.
I am a Teesside lad, who owns a company called Steel River Drinks.
I launched my first drinks in 2018. A gin called STAINSBY GIRL. I’m sure you get the Steel River and Stainsby Girl connections with Teesside.
That gin and those that have followed have gone down really well on Teesside and are really starting to reach all parts now.
I have gained some notoriety and followers and a little standing in the drinks game and on Teesside as a result. I’m launching other products next year. But had an idea for a stand alone brand that would raise money and awareness on a daily, hell, even hourly basis, for a cause I am passionate about. Mental Health.
I myself have suffered some mental health issues over the course of my life and I guess it’s no coincidence that from the moment I owned up to them, faced them, got some help with them and also really changed my whole outlook on life, that things have started to really move at a pace for me.
I know you are a busy busy man, but if you want to get a more in depth look at that and the following, please do head to my website – https://steelriverdrinks.com/my-story/
I had a crazy busy first Christmas period last year. And was really up against it. But as usual I came through just about unscathed and alot wiser. On the 23rd I received a call from a mate from way back, which to this day, I am so very very sad I didn’t pick up. But I was just getting through the last of my Christmas rush.
On Christmas Eve I was finally done and I poured myself a whisky and made a ‘Thank You’ post to my amazing customers and followers.
My mate Jay who had rang me the day before (I kind of have a feeling he probably wanted some gin as a last minute pressie for his wife), made a comment and told me to enjoy Xmas but also relax. That was him all over.
Under 48 hours later, that lad, Jay, who I’d known since we were kids, he with a good life, gorgeous young kids, lovely older kids, an amazing wife, loads of friends, a lad who was so well known in Thornaby, life and soul of the party, massive Boro fan, so much to live for…….
Jay took his own life on Boxing Day night.
I, his other friends, and I am sure his mum and dad, his brother, his kids, his wife, still in so many ways just do not know what made him do that. And it has shocked me to the bone and really upset me for many months. It still does. And I will always just wish I had just picked up that bloody call from him.
On the 27th, me and all his other mates sat in The Dubliners Pub to be there for each other and to just try and fathom what had gone on. I also think no lad wanted to be alone with his thoughts that day too.
It was a long, bitter sweet, agonising, afternoon, but filled with laughter and memories too. However, I was already thinking about ways I could right this wrong.
To make sure this never happened to anyone close to me again.
So the idea started to form and I just joined dots with what I know, what I do for a living and what I learned subsequently from researching suicides and male mental health issues.
It shocked me.
There is a criminal amount of underfunding. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. We have a good few charities, helplines, and other initiatives, but they rely on lottery funding, and donations and fundraisers. Nationally there didn’t seem to be no real overall action plan, or cohesive strategy. (Ofcourse now, with an election coming up, suddenly its the ‘in-cause’ – which actually helps what Im proposing)
So, I know the drinks game, know I can make and source good drinks. I think I can get these drinks into big players. And get income from those sales going to these various charities and endeavours. Like a conduit so to speak. I will be sorting the drinks side of the business and getting them out to as many bars and pubs and clubs as possible to get this concept front and central.
That’s the best I could do to try and make a difference and try and make sense.
The idea to raise money from a drinks brand is because it’s what I do anyway. It’s also what a hell of alot of people like to do every day, every weekend anyways. We British like a drink, love the British pub and support the pub industry. And more than most handle it all just fine.
I know for many, the pub, the bar, is a much more relaxed place to talk about their feelings than their front room or the workplace. I want to make mental health non taboo, as it still is lamentably.
But getting it out there socially, means getting the conversation going in as much a relaxed place as possible, so it gets people talking about their own issues or willing to help friends or family with theirs.
Those with no mental health issues, are going to buy a pint or a G&T anyways, so my thinking is it may as well be a BIG BALLS drink which will raise money.
Those out and about will see these front facing brands and it may just be enough to get them opening up. Get the conversation starting.
My plan is to get the brands into bars and pubs with table flyers and beermats giving the story of what BIG BALLS is about.
IT TAKES BIG BALLS TO SAY YOU’RE NOT OK.
And it IS OK to be NOT OK.
The balls element lends itself naturally to sports. And I am a massive sports fan and a massive believer that exercise and sport are great for mental wellbeing. So when I was thinking of Ambassadors and folks who could help promote my cause, I started to think of sporting personalities with profile.
Eventually, being a drinks brand first and foremost I want to sponsor sports events, and to really push the cause and the conversation through sport. Why not a BIG BALLS GIN STAND at Wimbledon or Lords. Why not BIG BALLS lager sold at football matches and sponsoring matches or tv and radio segments?
It’s all about raising daily funds and daily awareness for the cause. As opposed to relying on fundraisers and events, which although great, are infrequent, difficult to organise and difficult to get busy people committed.
Easier to get folks just buying a BIG BALLS pint or a G&T!
I think you are a natural choice to be an Ambassador. You have great standing, are experienced with that sort of role, have a great following!
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to make gin (although you may well end up drinking a little more of it in the coming years!).
But your voice can reach much further than mine alone. And it is about making some noise. Getting the cause out there. On social media, other forms of media, wearing the badge, just telling folks about what BIG BALLS is, what it wants to achieve and how and the future plans it has.
Having you front and central on the website would be great.
As well as the P.O.S going into pubs. People will pick up the beermats and flyers when they see BIG BALLS for sure (that’s kind of the point), but they will read on, if those types of advertising materials have your endorsement for sure.
It is a big plan to get this brand into Greene King as well as the likes of Wetherspoons. To go national, BIG BALLS needs to be in national chains.
I have no idea if your attachment would open doors for that or not, but I suspect it would start a conversation.
I do want to do fundraisers, but I know your time will be very limited, so not asking for any commitments there at all. But moving forward if you can attend/host, that’s great.
Mental Health is front and central in sport right now, and obviously with your profile there, I am certain it will help in creating awareness through those channels.
Lastly, thank you so much for reading all of this. It’s alot I am sure. But I just wanted to give you the full picture and to say, it would be an honour if you could get onboard.
Very Best Regards
BIG BALLS FOUNDATION.
STEEL RIVER DRINKS LTD.