Getting daily comments about his height is part and parcel of life for 26-year-old Lydon Sutcliffe, who admits he would find it strange if he went out and didn’t get attention
“What’s the weather like up there?” With a fond yet exasperated grin, Lydon Sutcliffe reveals this is one phrase he has heard hundreds of times in his life.
“I’ve heard them all countless times,” he says. “‘Did your mother put you in a grow bag?’ ‘Gosh, you’re tall aren’t you?’, ‘Your mother said you wouldn’t be long’.
“Anywhere I go in the world, I get the same comments – it is like the international language of things to say to tall people.
“I reply: ‘7ft 1in’ and they say: ‘How did you know what I was going to ask?’”
With a wicked smile, Lydon, 26, who lives in Cockerham near Lancaster, explains that he always has a witty answer ready.
“A lot of people ask me if I play basketball when they see how tall I am. I tell them ‘no, I play miniature golf’.”
Lydon, who was 6ft 3ins by the age of 12., was used to being the tallest in his class – if not the school.
He recalls: “The first time I remember realising how tall I was was when I was playing football on the streets with some other kids, and they thought I was at least 12 and at high school. I was eight!
“I used to get called ‘Beanpole’ and ‘Lanky’.”
Lydon, who lives with mum Shirley, a detox nurse, and dad Malcolm, who worked in catering and has now retired, is from a family of tall men.
Lydon explains: “My dad is 6ft 2ins tall, and they are all tall on my dad’s side.My brother Spencer is 6ft 6ins and my sister, Rachel Leyland, is 5ft 10ins.
“But I just shot up in my teens, and when I was 15, I was 6ft 8ins.
“At the time, the tallest man in the UK was Chris Greener, but he had only been 6ft 7ins at the age of 15. He is now 7ft 6ins.
“As well as being really tall as a teenager, I was really skinny too – proper stick thin. But over the last year or so, my metabolism has slowed, and I have started filling out and I am now nearly 20 stone.”
Mum Shirley explains: “It was not like today, when clothes are available over the internet. Luckily, Lydon’s grandma was a tailoress, so she used to make him clothes and add bits of material to his clothes to lengthen them.”
Having big feet also meant that finding shoes to fit was difficult for Lydon, as he reached his current size 14 at the age of 14.
As Lydon grew so tall so quickly, doctors became concerned that he may have Marfan Syndrome, which is a tall person’s condition and is a disorder of the body’s connective tissues.
He explained: “Doctors told me I was just a tall lad.”
Lydon went to Myerscough College, where he studied sports turf management. He gained a placement at Wimbledon and since then,worked there for the last few years, looking after the tennis courts and making sure the grounds are in top condition. He also worked at the Olympics.
Lydon explains: “It is a fantastic place to work, and I have met so many celebrities working there.”
Laughing, Lydon reveals famous people approach him at Wimbledon and ask to have their photographs taken with him and they affectionately call him: “The tallest man at Wimbledon”.
“I have met people like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Cliff Richard, Amir Khan, Helen Skelton, Linford Christie and Holly Willoughby. Roger Federer always asks to have a photo with me and John Isner, who played the longest professional tennis match in 2010, always chats to me, as we are both into wrestling. Last time, he left me his size 14 trainers, which fit me perfectly.”
Lydon is a model for High and Mighty, which makes clothing for big and tall men. He says: “I took part in ‘Hug a Tall Person Day’ and also did a nude photoshoot to show that people come in all different body shapes.”
Lydon also signed with an acting agency and went to Pinewood Studios to audition for the part of Chewbacca in the new Star Wars film. He says: “I didn’t get it, as they were looking for someone who was really thin as well as tall. They were really nice and said I was the loveliest bloke they had met and they might get in touch about other things.”
Learning to drive proved a challenge. Lydon explains: “No driving instructors around here have cars big enough for me to learn to drive in.
“When one turned up, I couldn’t believe my eyes as she was driving a Nissan Micra. I could not get into the car for love nor money.”
Lydon appeared on Keith Lemon’s Lemonaid, where comedy character Keith aims to solve people’s problems in his own, tongue-in-cheek manner.
Lydon recalls: “It was all a great laugh. I met Keith Lemon and we went outside to find the car from Back To The Future. They all tried to fit me in the car but couldn’t do it.
“They then had me driving an army tank - but I still struggled to fit inside the tank!”
“I met Emma Bunton and the rapper Tinchy Stryder on the show.
“I had this little rapper come up to me and tap me on my shoulder and say: ‘Hey Big Man! Let me get a picture with you’.”
Everywhere he goes, Lydon is used to being stared at.
Lydon says: “I don’t mind but it is a bit strange. After all, if you saw a fat person, you wouldn’t say: ‘Gosh, you’re really fat aren’t you?’
“I was once in a pie shop and a man started staring at me then waving his hands in front of me and sizing me up. I asked him what he was doing and he told me that he was an undertaker and was measuring me up for a coffin.”
But Lydon is too good-natured to let comments get to him.
He says: “I am officially classed as a giant as I am over 7ft. I like being tall and would not change the way I am.
“I get a lot of attention from the girls too. I have not got a girlfriend at the moment and people often ask me if I go for tall girls.
“I tend to notice tall girls, but I don’t have a particular height I look for in a girl, and have been out with small lasses too.
“Everyone should be proud of themselves the way they are.”