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Q&A With Chris Horner - The Grim Sweeper
Q&A With Chris Horner - The Grim Sweeper
How long have you been detecting and what/who inspired you to start?
Aged about 7, walking beside my father, as he was swinging what I thought was a stick, and digging holes, the excitement and trepidation of what he was going to find, had me mesmerised. Years went by watching and following the treasure hunter in the family. I started metal detecting in 2000, and fell for it hook, line and sinker. I first borrowed my dad’s spare machine (a Laser Tesaro) and was taught the basics about sensitivity, ground balance and how to get the best out of the machine. I search and search, but still no treasure, though to this day, it doesn’t dampen my spirits.
Who are Man Down?
“Man Down is a Cornwall based group offering safe spaces to meet the current emotional and mental health needs of men who are struggling to cope with the everyday pressures facing them in our modern society.” -
I first walked through their doors in 2019, a place to go to talk about anything and everything that was on my mind, where I can just be myself and share my problems. It is non-judgmental and everyone has empathy for any scenario that arises. Their strapline is “Let’s Talk About It”, and that’s what they offer.
How have Grim Sweepers been getting involved with Man Down?
I was invited to attend a Man Down retreat in Dartmoor, January 2020, and was talking with Brad Osman (co-founder of Man Down CIC) about how metal detecting helps me with my mental health. From this conversation, I was asked to pilot a session for members from the St Austell group, including the facilitator, Clint Osborne; with a view to rolling this out to all 18 groups in Cornwall. This took place in early March 2020, and we all know what happened next in the country…
With the return to some normality, I was asked to re-start the programme with Man Down members, which was also made available for their immediate families, if they wanted.
More recently, along with the support of Treclago Farm, Camelford, and St Austell Metal Detecting Club, we at GSMD C.I.C. raised over £2,300 for Man Down with a day’s metal detecting rally and raffle. We had amazing donations from Joan Allen, Optimist Spades, Ray Laidlaw of MDUK, Jason Massey of Detecting for Veterans CIC, and, of course, The Grim Sweeper; as well as donations from local businesses and individuals.
The money raised helps to keep venues open and retreats running for the men of Cornwall.
What are the benefits of metal detecting in terms of mental health?
Metal detecting is an immersive experience, where your senses are focused on the metronomic sweep of the detector and the anticipation of discovery. This process brings about a release from low level mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. We advocate an approach which is based in mindfulness techniques, bring people into the moment and away from the issues their mental health illness locks them into. Through the guided metal detector activity, participants benefit from being out in nature, learning a new skill and most importantly building relationships with people from their community and the community of metal detectorists.
Some feedback from fellow detectorists on how metal detecting makes them feel:
“…whilst normally not a stressy person, the chronic stress has taken a toll and for me, metal detecting is such a release. Once I’m plugged in, headphones in, focusing on my little screen and the beeps and the beautiful countryside, it takes me away from everything else and gives me that well needed break to enjoy being myself again.”
“I’m a female, with a super busy working life as many male and females. But when detecting I zone out, leave the world, work and my troubles behind without even realising. Then pop 5 hours have passed without a care in the world.”
“It’s a sense of freedom, where you don’t have to think and you can switch off from the hustle and bustle of work or home life or just if you’re feeling down, Just relax walking round this beautiful countryside swinging your detector.”
“I haven’t worked for over three years. Suffer from headaches and migraines. PTSD depression and anxiety. Metal detecting has been a real help for me.”
“I love being out of the house, this hobby gives me fresh air, exercise in any weather, time to stop thinking about trials and tribulations of life, when, where, why, & what time is forgotten…”
“While I’m out I don’t think of any negative thoughts at all it’s really refreshing which is fantastic… and the help it gives me mentally is fantastic even if it’s just for a couple of hours here or there.”
What is your best find(s) so far?
Anything extra you'd like to add?
Our mission is to bring the joy and tranquillity of metal detecting to people of all ages, who are experiencing mental health issues in their everyday life.
Grim Sweepers Metal Detecting C.I.C. (GSMD C.I.C.) was initially set up to bring the much-loved hobby to more people, having identified that many people “would love to try it, but don’t know where, or how, to start”.
The main service is the metal detecting training/tutorial/advice & guidance. This includes collection and drop-off from their home/location – the company vehicle can carry up to four passengers.
Blog by Zoe, with thanks to Chris Horner at Grim Sweepers C.I.C Metal Detecting