Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Bartender Walks the Walk

A former Queenstown bartender is nearing the end of an epic walk from one end of the country to another to raise money and awareness for men’s mental health. 

Australian-born Josh Storey, who used to tend bar for Future Hospitality Group’s Little Blackwood, is scheduled to complete his 3000km walk along Te Araroa Trail in Bluff in the next couple of weeks.   

He is fundraising for the Australia-based #talk2mebro movement, created to provide men with a safe platform to open up and share their struggles without judgement or ridicule.  

This is not Josh’s first rodeo walking long distances. In a ‘random moment’ in May last year he decided to walk from Newcastle to Wollongong on Australia’s south coast. At just 266-kilometres, it planted the seed for achieving something on a much larger scale. 

After spending six months in Queenstown planning the current trip, he headed off to Cape Reinga, at New Zealand’s northwest-most tip, to start the walk. En route he recently completed a ‘rockstar’ shift at Little Blackwood to showcase the special ‘Josh’s Storey’ cocktail Future Hospitality Group is promoting to raise money for the cause.  

The fundraising night was a roaring success. Josh says, “The night went super well, always a good time at Little Blackwood. Managed to do a lot of networking and discuss the fundamentals of mental health with those I had the pleasure of meeting. 

 “The tourists and people of Queenstown were super generous, and I can’t thank them enough for their support!” 

He raised over $500 in cash donations and cocktail sales will continue to tick over for the duration of his walk, with $1 from each being donated to the fund by his former bosses. 

The mental health movement #talk2mebro runs an early intervention program to reduce rates of male suicide, as well as weekly social meetups. Josh used to attend their Friday meet ups back home in Australia. 

“We would go for a swim, have an ice bath or go for a walk and have a coffee,” he says. 

“If you had something to talk about you could, if you didn’t, it was perfectly alright because it’s just a bunch of blokes hanging out and having a good time.” 

During his time with Future Hospitality Group, Josh took the lead in offering mental health support to all company staff. Starting ‘Mental Health Mondays’, he sat in a local café with open ears and an open heart to talk about anything and everything. 

Walking the trail is something he finds helpful for his own state of mind. “I love throwing myself into situations where I have to push myself and understand how my brain works,” he says.  

“It’s a great way to see the world because you get a better understanding of where you are and how far you’re going.” 

Future Hospitality Group co-owner James Ace is hugely supportive of what Josh is doing. 

“We are always so proud of the awesome humans we employ and are thrilled to support Josh on his epic adventure.  

“Good on him for raising money and awareness for men’s mental health which is such a huge issue throughout New Zealand.” 

Little Blackwood will have the ‘Josh’s Storey’ cocktail on the menu until he finishes the walk. Direct donations can also be made here at www.talktomebro.grassrootz.com