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On 22 August 2015 six injured veterans began their 1,000 mile journey across mainland Britain, starting in Scotland to finish at Buckingham Palace on 1 November 2015.

On 9 October I had the opportunity to join the veterans for a portion of their incredible journey, together with Emma Wager and Emily Baker from the Military Injury Claims team in Southampton. We met the veterans at Southampton FC’s St Mary’s Stadium, before embarking upon a 10.5 mile walk towards Gosport.

At this point, the veterans were already 49 days into their 72 day journey and were in high spirits. Their journey around Britain included a variety of on and off-road terrain, including reaching the summits of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Pen Y Fan. We learned about the highlights of their journey so far, including the incredible amount of support which the team got along the way. Passers-by would regularly stop to donate, every penny of which goes toward supporting veterans back into employment.

A particular highlight for the team was meeting Prince Harry, their patron, who joined them in September for a 17 mile portion of their walk through Shropshire. Alec Robotham said how he had enjoyed having “everyday chat” with Prince Harry about military life. Prince Harry was also at Buckingham Palace to meet them at the end of their 1,000 mile challenge.

The journey inspired a great deal of support for veterans and the charity. The event was covered by the national press and had a large social media following @supportthewalk. We were honoured to be involved in a small part of their journey. It was humbling, albeit slightly embarrassing to admit, to find that we were quite worn out after the day, despite having walked for just one day out of the 72!

Alec Robotham, Royal Marines
Severe right leg trauma as a result of shrapnel damage from a suicide bomb incident whilst on foot patrol in Afghanistan. After multiple surgeries, Alec will always suffer from swelling and poor flexibility in his right leg, but he sees this as a small price to pay given there was a 90% chance he was going to lose it above the knee.

Scott Ransley, Royal Marines
Scott was involved in an incident whilst dismantling an IED making facility. He was close to an IED which detonated and lost sight in his right eye. Scott found it hard to fill the void in his life after leaving the Royal Marines – the camaraderie, the constant focus and the daily challenges – and therefore enjoyed being involved with the expedition.

Stewart Hill, The Royal Welsh
Stewart suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury whilst serving as a British Army Officer in Afghanistan. To help deal with his post injury depression, Stewart began painting a couple of years ago, and now adores painting, finding it exciting and therapeutic.

Matt Fisher, 3 Rifles
Gun shot wound to left foot whilst on foot patrol in Afghanistan. Matt underwent rehab sessions at Headley Court, but after a year of having difficulty walking he made the decision to have his left leg amputated.

Andrew Bement, US Marine Corps
Andrew was medically retired from service in 2015 for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Kirstie Ennis, US Marine Corps
Kirstie was involved in a helicopter crash whilst deployed in Afghanistan, in which she sustained injuries including full thickness facial trauma, damage to her cervical and lumbar spine, hearing impairment, bilateral shoulder trauma, traumatic brain injury and left foot limb salvage. She has undergone 40 surgeries and has been through speech therapy, physical therapy, vestibular therapy and cognitive therapy over the past three years.

More about the Charity

Walking with the Wounded supports veterans with physical, mental or social injuries on their journey to long-term security, independence and employment outside the military. The charity’s mission is “to fund the re-training and re-education of our servicemen and women, both veterans and those leaving the Armed Forces today”. This involves financing new qualifications, education and training programmes for those who are injured, to help with their career transition. Their work enables veterans to rebuild their lives after injury and to return to the workplace.

Follow the Walking with the Wounded on Twitter @supportthewalk

Autumn 2016 (PDF)

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