‘Mr Airborne’ – who scaled Selfridges to unfurl #LetsTalk psychological well being banner – pleads: ‘Give me my signal again’

A daredevil who scaled the iconic Selfridges store in Birmingham to post a #LetTalk mental health banner asked, “Give me my mark back”.

The intrepid intruder – known only as Mr. Airborne – had risen before dawn to attach the great notice to the scaffolding that adorns the landmark in the early hours of March 13th.

Now he has revealed why:

  • He set it up in the middle of the night
  • The mission went almost completely wrong
  • After paying £ 360 to help society, he wants the five-square-meter banner back

Selfridges is currently covered in a giant work of art called the Dogtooth Flower in a joint partnership between Selfridges, IKON Gallery and Balsall Heath raised fashion designer Osman Yousefzada

An industrial welder turned climber who runs his own YouTube channel, Urban Researcher, Mr. Airborne, used the scaffolding to unfold the banner and encourage people to talk their way out of mental health problems.

A huge #LetTalk banner was posted on Selfridges’ page at the bullring in Birmingham to encourage people to connect with friends and family

Refusing to give his real name, he said he was on the verge of desperation as a new father with a break-up relationship.

The more he “pushed people away,” the more embroiled in a vicious cycle of depression.

But then he saw the light – after discovering a passion for using a drone to capture the earth reclaiming abandoned buildings as its own.

In a week where Meghan Markle revealed her own mental health struggles, Mr Airborne told BirminghamLive, “When you get increasingly depressed, you can’t see the end of it.

“My message (to others in this situation) is to look at me.

“You don’t have to end your life to get out of this position.

“I’m so glad I never did that jump because I’m now as far (from this place) as I’ve never been before.”

The bullring had the banner removed on Saturday afternoon. BirminghamLive was promised an explanation.

Huge #LetTalk banner by Selfridges’ side in the bullring

The bullring project

Mr Airborne said he had been carefully planning the Selfridges mission for weeks.

It was originally supposed to be on the Sunday of that weekend, but a combination of wind and rain in the weather forecast and safety concerns caused him to push it forward.

The “raid” took place on Saturday morning, March 13th, from 3:30 am to 4:15 pm.

Mr. Airborne was accompanied by his brother, who helped film the adventure with a second head camera, and by a documentary filmmaker interested in “people like me”.

A double decker bus passes St Martin in Bull Ring Church and the Park Street side of Selfridges on Bullring as the famous silver discs are first covered with scaffolding and then a huge new art project from the IKON Gallery.  The bus advertises Disney's WandaVision

Sense of Scale: A double decker bus drives past St Martin’s bullring church and the Park Street side of Selfridges in the bullring as the famous silver disks are first covered with scaffolding and then a huge new art project from the IKON Gallery. The bus advertises Disney’s WandaVision

Adventure

All 15,000 silver washers from the famous building will be removed while the blue background is being renovated. The year-long project is expected to be completed before the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

After Mr. Airborne climbed onto the scaffolding, he unfolded the banner and attached it to the frame.

Because of the darkness and the weather, he didn’t notice at first that he had put it on from back to front.

Mr Airborne told BirminghamLive, “Myself and my brother wore head cameras but couldn’t see that we had turned it upside down!

“It was a lot harder to set up than I thought – when we first tried to unfold it, it just didn’t work.

“And then, when we set it up, we were told it was going backwards.

“When I did it, the feeling was amazing.”

The Park Street entrance to the bullring parking lot below Selfridges

The Park Street entrance to the bullring parking lot below Selfridges

Please send it back!

While Mr. Airborne understands why the bullring removed the banner, he would still like to have it back.

“My supporters, who have all helped, will ask for it to be returned,” he said.

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“The banner cost £ 360 and it only helped one person, then it was worth it.

“We want to be able to encourage people to guess where it’s going next … a bit like a Banksy piece.

“I would even take it to Newcastle or wherever after the lockdown if it helps people get the message, ‘let’s talk’.”

Personal trip

Unfolding the banner wasn’t just posting a message to help others.

Mr. Airborne said he did it for himself too.

His job as an industrial welder had helped him stay agile by the age of 33, and he had begun climbing expeditions to take care of his own sanity.

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“I made mistakes and broke up with my little daughter’s mother,” he told BirminghamLive.

“I’m in a new relationship now and I’ve found happiness again.

“I had made some mistakes in life and (the pressure from) social media only helped.

“Everything was spinning and I was pushing people away. I was alone.

“I see now that a glass is half full and that is a wonderfully positive point of view.

“Put the (anger) elsewhere – it’s an ongoing thing that you have to do.”

The Park Street side of the new coat for Selfridges, with the historic St. Martin in the bullring on the left

Towering puzzle: The Park Street side of the new coat for Selfridges, historic St. Martin in the bullring on the left

Do the right thing

Mr Airborne said interest in the world of “urban explorers” is growing.

But while he realized that the bullring didn’t want him on the scaffolding, he tried to distance himself from breaking the law.

“There are a lot of urban researchers and there is a huge following for things like that,” he said.

“There has been an increase in lockdowns as people broke in and devastated places.

Mark One (right) in the old Bull Ring Center

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“What we do is never about it.

“We’re not breaking anywhere or taking any chances – you should always check the floors and someone should always know who you are.

“If the police ever got out, they were very understanding.

“I hate people who destroy things and don’t like pointless vandalism.

“But what I love is the way the earth is taking things back, and my drone footage over abandoned buildings shows that.

“Not wasting police time is something I find very positive.

“But we need to do more to address mental health problems.”