A superhero whose eye-catching working from home lockdown costumes brought mirth to many during 2020 has launched a charity calendar charting his exploits.
Former Penrith man James Thorneley is raising money for Mental Health UK with a 2021 collection of pictures showing his host of weekly alter-egos.
For the past 20 years James has worked for Standard Life Aberdeen, and was latterly global head of media relations until he decided last month to leave and pursue a new challenge.
The 45-year-old began working from home in mid-March and for fun on April Fool’s Day donned a Scooby-Doo costume from his wardrobe.
“I thought ‘I’ll just wear that and take a picture of myself in front of my laptop and just say working from home today’. I sent that to a few colleagues and then posted it online on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin,” he told the Herald.
“I got such a great response from that, people using laughing emojis, and saying ‘that’s made my day’. It was a one-off but I thought I might as well do it the next week as well.”
His idea developed and, when his own fancy dress attire ran out, he began ordering outfits online.
“I started wearing costumes down the supermarket or in front of Buckingham Palace and other London landmarks and taking pictures of myself,” he said.
“The feedback was welcome light relief in what was a tough environment. It was very small what I was doing but it brought a smile to people’s faces which I think was needed.”
As the weeks wore on, Londoners and his social media followers were met by fictional superhero He-Man, a stormtrooper, a Ghostbuster, Woody from Toy Story and Popeye along with Elvis and even an unseasonably early Father Christmas.
He decided in May to produce a calendar which has now been printed. Sales — and donations — were brisk.
More than £1,500 was pledged inside 24 hours, and this has now gone up to more than £2,500.
“I think people’s wellbeing and mental health is so important,” he said.
“Until recently it’s been largely overlooked and the focus has been on physical health – quite rightly, because physical health is important as well. But I think over the last few years there’s a growing realisation and understanding about mental health issues, and it will be and should be a key focus area.”
James is a former student of Penrith’s Ullswater High and Queen Elizabeth Grammar schools.
His parents, Andrew and Jennifer, live in Penrith, and he has two elder sisters, Claire Thorneley and Sarah Henderson.