Inspiring Britain: Come rain, shine, or cold weather, Speedo Mick is out raising money for charity

. Credit: ITV News

2017 has been a dark year for news – dominated by terror attacks, uncertainty in world politics and natural disasters. So ITV News has decided it is time to shine a light on some good news, telling the stories of inspirational people in communities across the country.

Michael Cullen - or Speedo Mick, as he's more commonly known - is a fundraiser like no other.

We meet him outside the Everton ground on a busy Saturday match day, stood next to the Dixie Dean statue, dressed (you guessed it) in little more than a pair of Speedos.

The walking boots and hat he's donned seem practical in the circumstances, if not slightly out of place.

Mick has been fundraising as his alter ego for the last three years, but could never have predicted how popular he'd become. He's now raised nearly £100,000 for a number of charities and his enthusiasm for fundraising shows no sign of waning.

What started out as a bonkers idea, after an equally mad plan to swim the Channel (despite not being able to swim), has turned into a much-loved character.

Mick did swim the Channel, and the icy water wasn't enough to put a plan out of his head to turn up in icy conditions at Goodison Park in his swimming outfit to raise a few quid.

He raised a fair few eyebrows - but more importantly, a lot of money. And so he's kept coming back.

What strikes me the most as we follow Mick around with his bucket before the game is how beloved a part of the community he has become.

People stop him to pose for selfies. Credit: ITV News

People run from one end of the street to the other to put money in his collection, slap him on his cold back, and throw a few words of support and thanks his way.

He thanks every single person individually and poses for every photo and selfie he's asked to - even if you don't make a donation. He's just happy to meet people and make a difference.

Chants and shouts of 'SPEEDO!' ring out every few minutes.

Mick's bucket gets heavier.

Speedo Mick is eight-year-old Lewis' 'best mate'. Credit: ITV News

And then we are introduced to eight-year-old Lewis and his mum Traci.

Lewis has cerebral palsy and needs to have an operation which costs a lot of money and needs more funding than the NHS can provide.

Mick has helped to raise the funds, and in the process has built a friendship with Lewis which has seen him accompany him to the operation theatre and visit him regularly at home.

Speedo Mick is a superhero to this little boy, and to many others too, I'm sure.

Speedo Mick is retiring the swimwear at the end of the season. Credit: ITV News

Sadly, however, the days of seeing this man in his swimwear are numbered. Mick is hanging up his speedos at the end of this season - to continue charity work, he tells me, dressed more comfortably.

But it's not over just yet. Before his Speedos are retired completely, he's got the small matter of a sponsored walk to France in his pants to do.

And in the meantime, match day won't be match day without Speedo Mick.

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