Walter DeForest, our Vincent Van Gogh look-a-like supporter, set a new world record of 179 portraits in 12 hours at the Edinburgh Fringe on Thursday (22 August), smashing with time to spare the previous record of 166 portraits, all while raising funds and awareness for Support in Mind Scotland and mental health.

The New Yorker, who was in Edinburgh to once again star in his acclaimed show Van Gogh Find Yourself at the Fringe, braved the strong winds on the Mile at the Adam Smith Statue, drawing his unique portraits from 8 o'clock in the morning for locals and visitors alike. 

This is the fourth year Walter has taken on this challenge, doing so again kindly in aid of Support in Mind Scotland. We're extremely grateful to have his support, and to be able to be part of a great day meeting so many interesting people! We spoke to people from Sri Lanka, France, Sudan, Denmark and America, to name a few!

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The morning was off to a bit of a slow start, with footfall understandably on the slow side, and by lunchtime we were a little worried we would make the target at all. It didn't help that the clouds were also looming above getting steadily darker, threatening to downpour at any moment (we had already had to postpone from the original of 10 Aug due to thunder and lightning!). But thankfully, our worries were in vain, because around 3pm things really started to pick up!

A fresh batch of festival-goers emerged, and soon we had long queues gathering, waiting eagerly to meet Walter and get their picture drawn. We took the chance whilst they waited to have a chat about mental health and what Support in Mind Scotland do (and exchange Fringe recommendations of course!). 

Ellen was lucky no. 167 and the sitter who helped Walter break the world record.

As time was ticking on and the waiting list was growing with more and more names, we realised that this was a done deal. So with time to spare, an enthusiastic supporter named Ellen became the record breaking portrait, and Walter had a well-deserved pizza break to congratulate himself before continuing on with more portraits.
It was a fantastic and unique way to get to meet people from across the world and talk about mental health and the importance of keeping an open conversation going. We want to say thank you to all those who stopped for a chat and wanted to get involved, and another big, big thank you to Walter for this amazing idea and for volunteering his time again this year. Asides from raising awareness, over £200 was raised for our mental health services.

To find out more about Walter's work and to be the first in the know about all future shows and events, give his website a visit here:

If you have a fun fundraising idea that we've not seen before, we'd love to hear about it! Just get in touch with us at [email protected] and we can talk about how to help make your idea a reality!