LIFESTYLE

13 Men Who Proved Britain Is Truly Great In 2016

From sports stars to an astronaut.

23/12/2016 11:20 GMT

To finish the year on a high, we’re celebrating the people who have achieved big things or made Britain a better place to be this year.

As HuffPost UK’s Building Modern Men project highlighted, it’s not been easy to be a man in 2016, with gender stereotypes continuing to put pressure on men and contributing towards mental health issues.

One thing that’ll undoubtably improve the situation is young men having positive role models.

So from sports stars to mental health campaigners, these are our men of 2016.

  • Jason Kenny
    Matthew Childs / Reuters
    Thanks to a stella performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, cyclist Jason Kenny equalled Sir Chris Hoy's record of winning six gold medals. The 28-year-old now has seven olympic medals in total, including one silver. 

    He managed to peddle to victory while planning his wedding to now-wife Laura (née Trott). Now that's what we call multitasking. 
  • Idris Elba
    Fred Duval via Getty Images
    Back in January actor Idris Elba called for more diversity in the entertainment industry by delivering a powerful speech to MPs.

    "I’m not here to talk about black people, I’m here to talk about diversity,” he said.

    "Diversity in the modern world is more than just skin colour - it’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social background, and most important of all, as far as I’m concerned - diversity of thought. Because if you have genuine diversity of thought among people making TV and film, then you won’t accidentally shut out any of the groups I just mentioned."
  • Professor Green
    Tristan Fewings via Getty Images
    Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, has continued to raise awareness of mental health issues in 2016 through his role as patron at the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).

    Speaking on AOL's Build LDN series, he said: “I do talk about it [mental health] because the more we talk the more people realise, a lot of mental health conditions, they’re quite insular.

    "People become quite isolated. And it’s that isolation that really makes it so difficult to help people because if you don’t know something is wrong, how can you help?”
  • Olly Alexander
    Harry Durrant via Getty Images
    Years and Years' Olly Alexander gave an impassioned speech to empower members of the LGBT+ during the band's 2016 Glastonbury set.

    "As queer people, we know what it’s like to be scared and we know what it’s like to live with fear as part of our every day," he said.

    "But tonight, Glastonbury, I’d like you to join me and say ‘no thank you, fear’. To say ‘fear, bye’. To literally shove a rainbow in fear’s face.

    "And all I have to say to finish, is I’m here, I’m queer, and yes, sometimes I’m afraid, but I am never ashamed because I am proud of who I am."
  • Alistair Brownlee
    ELIZABETH RUIZ via Getty Images
    Triathlete Alistair Brownlee stole hearts around the world when he helped his brother Jonathan cross the finishing line at the Mexico World Triathlon Series.

    The brothers ended up finishing in second and third place and Jonathan collapsed on the floor just after finishing the race. He later thanked Alistair for his "incredible loyalty".
  • Prince Harry
    Chris Jackson via Getty Images
    This year Prince Harry followed in his mother's footsteps by breaking down stigma around HIV.

    The prince underwent a HIV test live on Facebook back in July during a visit to Burrell Street Sexual Health Clinic in London. 

    Earlier this month, he underwent a second public test in Barbados alongside Rihanna to mark World AIDs Day to “encourage men to get tested".
  • Skepta
    Ollie Millington via Getty Images
    Skepta, whose real name is Joseph Junior Adenuga, helped solidify grime's place in the mainstream when he won the Mercury prize in September.

    The artist said he planned to put the £25,000 prize money to good use, helping more disadvantaged kids get into music.

    He told the BBC he wanted to do “something positive, something to help other people feel as happy and as free as me".

    "We’re doing a project right now, actually, building a studio in my old estate to help the young kids do music," he added.
  • Jonny Benjamin
    Elliot Wagland
    Jonny Benjamin stood on a bridge about to take his own life in 2008, but thanks to intervention from a concerned passer­by, he didn’t jump.

    Since then he's dedicated his life to raising awareness of mental health issues and helping others who may be feeling suicidal. This year he met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as part of his ongoing work. He shared his story as part of HuffPost UK's Young Minds Matter project, saying: “It is vital that every school includes mental health education to help prevent future tragedies." 
  • Tim Peake
    Roberto Ricciuti via Getty Images
    Astronaut Tim Peake spent six months on the International Space Station (ISS) this year, returning safely to Earth on 18 June. 

    The 44-year-old was the first British astronaut to be sent to the ISS by the European Space Agency and took part in more than 250 experiments. 

    During the historic trip, he also ran the London Marathon on a treadmill and earned an honour from the Queen for “extraordinary service beyond our planet”.
  • Grayson Perry
    Ian Forsyth via Getty Images
    Artist Grayson Perry, who regularly makes public appearances as his alter ego Claire, has long been challenging perceptions around stereotypical masculinity. But this year he released his book ‘The Descent Of Man’ to explore the topic further and help humanity release itself from the shackles of gender norms. 

    "We need to think of masculinity like a piece of equipment," he told The Huffington Post UK.

    "Some men, like soldiers, need it all the time, others might need it at the weekend and others not at all."
  • Sadiq Khan
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    In May Sadiq Khan made history by becoming London's first Muslim mayor.

    He said he was “deeply humbled by the hope and trust” voters placed in him, adding: “I want to thank every single Londoner for making the impossible possible.

    “I’m so proud that Londoners have today chosen hope over fear and unity over division."
  • Joe Wicks
    BLUEBIRD
    Joe Wicks, aka 'The Body Coach' went from Instagram star to household name in 2016.

    The fitness and nutrition expert became the UK's best selling non-fiction author of 2016 and more than one million viewers tuned into his debut Channel 4 show. But he says fame hasn't gone to his head.

    "I grew up on a council estate. There’s money involved in what I do, but it hasn’t changed the person I am," he told The Huffington Post UK.

    "If I became an arrogant prat, my mum and dad, my brother and friends would tell me straight away."
  • Alastair Campbell
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
    Throughout the year author and former political aide Alastair Campbell has tirelessly spoken about mental health issues in oder to break down stigma and raise awareness. 

    In August, he penned an emotional blog about his brother Donald, who had schizophrenia and died at the age of 62. Then in November, Alastair spoke about his own history of depression in Channel 5 show 'Me and My Mental Illness'.