LOU Vincent is a man on a mission.
Having now retired from the professional game, the fun-loving former New Zealand Black Cap is spending the English season travelling the length and breadth of the country in a 1985 Mercedes HymerMobil camper van, playing around 70 games of cricket.
On his travels, the 33-year-old ex-Worcestershire batsman has welcomed some of the biggest names in the game — as well as a host of other non-cricketing celebrities — into the back of his van to film them performing all manner of madcap antics.
However, behind the smile, there is a serious message for Vincent, whose life has been dogged by battling depression, which has inspired him to use his journey to raise awareness of, and money, for mental health charity Mind.
Speaking of his own experiences, Vincent describes his struggles with a cricketing analogy.
He said: “The high of my career was scoring a century for New Zealand in a Test against Australia at the WACA on my debut at the age of 22.
“The low was the very next game against Bangladesh. I got a duck. In fact, this is a perfect example of how my life has been at times.”
He continued: “Now that my full-time professional days are over, I am playing a lot of club cricket as well as for Lashings and the PCA all around the UK — I’m enjoying that and having a lot of fun.
“I’ve also been trying to get a few people to come into the back of the bus for an interview and to do a few silly things with the purpose of creating awareness for Mind.
“As cricketers, we go to the gym to get fit and the nutritionists make sure we eat right, but it is also the mental health that is important — what are we doing day-to-day to make sure we offer the support to people who need it a little bit more than others?
“That is the main purpose of what I’m doing now, based on my own personal experiences.”
When chatting with Vincent, it is difficult to envisage him as a man with such demons as he comes across as the most fun-loving and friendly guy you could hope to meet.
This infectious side of his personality is exactly why he has been able to persuade some massive names into the back of his battered old camper van to make fools out of themselves — all of which he films for his tour diary, which features on the Cricket AM show every Saturday from 9am on Sky Sports 1.
He explained: “I’ve been trying to raise the profile through my website whereislou.co.uk and I’ve had the likes of Sir Viv Richards, Graeme Swann, Chris Gayle and even Sir Steve Redgrave in the bus.
“I had Marcus Trescothick in the back too doing a puppet show with a couple of my old dirty socks that I played for New Zealand in seven years ago!
“I’ve got no experience in the media, so it is just whatever goes — I’ve had some guys singing songs and I play a silly game called iPod idol where they have to choose a song and they get 30 seconds to sing it.”
Vincent added: “I’ve been living in the bus since the start of the season and it is really kicking off now — I’ve got about 35 days straight coming up from the start of July when I will be going from one event to the next each day.
“I found the bus up in Edinburgh back in April and, as soon as I saw it, I knew it was perfect — absolutely nothing works in it though!
“I’ve had to go back to reading books by torchlight, it’s worth about 200 quid!”
To read more about Vincent’s fascinating journey, have a good laugh at the videos and donate money to his worthwhile cause, visit whereislou.co.uk