Cyclist Tommy Bustard opens up about starting his Yorkshire Grit podcast when at his lowest point

Former professional cyclist Tommy Bustard started the Yorkshire Grit podcast after struggles with his own mental health with the desire to help just one person to feel better.

The podcast, produced by This is Distorted, targets some of the biggest issues in men’s mental health, aimed at unlocking the stigma and bringing sensitive subjects to the fore, no topic is off limits.

Although its roots are in cycling, the podcast’s guests are varied and have ranged from Olympians, Turner prize winners, entrepreneurs and survivors.

Ahead of Mental Health Awareness week, next week, Tommy spoke to PodcastingToday about why he started the podcast, what it has achieved so far, what he has learned from the experience and future plans.

yorkshire grit

Tommy started Yorkshire Grit on 31 December 2018, when he was at his lowest point, he explains: “I remember walking back from a family friend’s house and felt like everything around me was crumbling. I just remember standing over this high bridge, I didn’t want to die but then something came to me. The idea that I needed to talk about this and help other people feeling like this. I went straight home and set up an Instagram account, if you check my first post it’s on that night.

“I started the podcast because the pain I was in, I didn’t want other people to feel the same pain, and in a way, talking about it helped a lot. I like making people feel good about themselves and the main aim was to help just one person.”

Listener response to the podcast has been good and Tommy believes it’s because it tells the truth, no matter what the outcome is. He says that scares some people but also inspires some.

A personal highlight for Tommy is seeing the positive impact the podcast has had on others. He’s taken a screen shot of almost every positive message received and there are hundreds of them. “Some of those are heart breaking but they thank me for being honest,” he says.

There have been many lessons learned from doing the podcast, including from guests who have appeared on it – one is that you have to keep going no matter what, Tommy says: “That’s what Yorkshire Grit is all about – moving forward and not giving up.”

He continues: “Another is to not put yourself under pressure, just do your best. Strive for quality over quantity. And understand you don’t need to be constantly churning out results because everyone else is, be true to yourself.”

The reason the podcast focuses on men’s mental health is because of Tommy’s own struggles. “I want to make other people realise they are not alone,” he explains, “If listening can make them feel better, just for a moment, then that’s my job done. There is no self-promotion or self-indulgent behaviour in this podcast, it’s there to help others.”

When asked which guest has been the most surprising, Tommy recalls that it was Grayson Perry in an episode he says was a mad experience. He admits that he was very nervous, and it was hard work at the beginning but by the end they were all laughing and hugging. It’s something he won’t forget in a long time.

Why is a podcast the right platform for Yorkshire Grit? “It had to be about connecting to people and there is no better way than the spoken word,” says Tommy, “Podcasts are accessible at any time of the day no matter what you are doing. They are a great use of technology,” he adds.

As for what’s coming for listeners in the future, without revealing details, Tommy teases: “I have a really cool project coming up soon with a big brand and I also have a big guest coming up, but I don’t want to give too much away!”

It sounds like there are exciting things to come from Yorkshire Grit, but in the meantime, you can hear previous episodes here.

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