'Telford needs a Batman': Councillor explains why he dresses as iconic superhero

‘Batman’ has opened up about the man behind the mask, and how bringing joy to his community has helped him fight his biggest foe.

Batman returns to Donnington on a regular basis thanks to Councillor Jay Gough
Batman returns to Donnington on a regular basis thanks to Councillor Jay Gough

He’s known by some as Telford Batman, but day-to-day this caped crusader can be found representing Donnington as Telford & Wrekin Councillor, Jay Gough.

Jay, 38, now an IT manager, has lived in Telford with his wife Rachel, since May 2013, relocating to the town whilst he was serving in the military.

He was medically discharged from the army in 2015 after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, stemming from his time serving in Afghanistan.

It was during his mental health struggle, that Jay found inspiration from the other side of the globe.

“I was at a very low point in my life for quite some time,” Jay explained: “One day I was just scrolling through my phone and I came across a video of a chap who made his own Batman suit, and how he does school visits and charity events and suddenly I just thought – I’ve got to do this, I need to do it. Telford needs a Batman.”

He reached out to Kevin Stevens, a New Zealand based entertainer known as ‘Wellington Batman’. Kevin helped Jay build his first Batman suit - Christian Bale’s Dark Knight suit - and put him in touch with creators across the world.

Batman helps put a smile on faces around the town

Jay soon began wearing the suit to community events and children’s parties to raise money for two charities, Children with Cancer UK and Hope House.

Over the last three years, Jay has accumulated two more suits - Michael Keaton’s 1989 and Ben Affleck’s 2017 suit - and raised thousands of pounds for Children with Cancer UK and Hope House.

“I don’t take any money for the events,” Jay explained: “I just ask people to pay money directly to the charities. I haven’t kept track of how much I’ve raised, it will be in the thousands.”

During the pandemic, Jay would don one of his suits for his government-mandated walks, reaching out to his local community on Facebook.

“I’m sure people thought ‘who’s this nutter?’” Jay said. “But I don’t care. I just wanted to make people happy.”

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Someone soon volunteered to drive him around on a modified trailer and families facing lockdown were treated to the iconic 1960s theme tune signalling the impending arrival of Telford’s own Dark Knight.

Jay added: “I just thought of all the children locked up with nothing to do and wanted to do something to help. After I started on the trailer I got so many people reach out on social media and tell me how much they loved it. It was really appreciated.”

Becoming Batman, Jay explained, has done more for his mental health than he could’ve imagined.

The man behind the mask: Telford & Wrekin Councillor, Jay Gough

“I was in a real, real bad way for a long time. I didn’t know if my marriage was going to survive it. I became very closed off and emotionless.

“I tried rounds of therapy, I felt very alone and abandoned by the military.

“I had eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy and it was making me worse. I had to say enough is enough.

“Doing this, being Batman, gives me purpose. When I put that mask on, I am Batman. My problems do not exist, I’m there to make other people happy.

“Making that slight improvement to someone’s day – that’s been the best therapy.”

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