A fundraising father who has worn fancy dress to work meetings over the past year plans to don his 100th costume this week – and hopes the public will join him.
Nick Jemetta, from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, has attended hundreds of Zoom meetings during lockdown, dressed as characters ranging from Batman to Gordon Ramsay.
The father-of-two wore his first outfit for a work video call after a fancy dress Friday PE with Joe Wicks class.
“Everyone was just laughing, smiling and asking questions,” the 37-year-old told the PA news agency.
“It was lifting people up in a time when people were struggling.”
Mr Jemetta said he knew some of his colleagues were living alone and had very little human interaction so he wanted to make them smile.
He has since continued the tradition, raising more than £9,000 for mental health charities and attending hundreds of Zoom calls in costume.
On Friday, he will pull on his 100th outfit and aims to take his total raised for charity past £10,000.
He hopes the public will join him by donning creative outfits of their own and sharing pictures of themselves on social media with the hashtag #FancyDress4MentalHealth.
“Let’s see if we can make this Friday one of those days where something positive is happening in the world… it would be the cherry on top.”
Mr Jemetta said he has faced mental health issues himself and always struggled with “worrying and overthinking”, culminating in a particularly difficult period in 2018.
“Since I’ve been more vocal about my lived experience, I’ve taken my mask off, and I’m less bothered about what people think,” he said.
He added that the discourse surrounding mental health has changed in recent years, and he wears fancy dress to make it a less daunting topic of conversation.
“Mental health conversations don’t have to be scary – in my experience, having a conversation won’t be a trigger to someone taking an action that you might not want them to take,” he said.
“It’s more likely to get them talking.
“We all have mental health, we’re all going to struggle with our mental health at some point, but those bad weeks, those bad days, and those bad months, they don’t define you – they don’t limit you and they don’t place any cap on your potential or your happiness.”
Mr Jemetta is raising money for Mental Health UK, Samaritans North Hertfordshire, Age UK Hertfordshire, Phase Hitchin, the Alzheimer’s Society and NHS Charities Together.
His fundraising page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/team/workinfancydress