Charity helps former servicemen and women deal with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression
Andrew Poole, an Army veteran living in Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, will be pulling on his boots next month to March in March. This is the annual fundraiser for the UK veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress.
This won’t be an easy 10 mile stroll. Andrew was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year and underwent eight months of chemotherapy during the pandemic. This has left him with constant fatigue, nausea, and peripheral neuropathy (pins-and-needles in his fingers and toes) that is so extreme it feels like frost-bite and makes it painful for him to wear socks, let alone wear boots to complete the 10 mile challenge.
Andrew spent eight years in the Armed Forces between 1983-1991 working across the world in places such as Belize, Cyprus, the Falklands and Northern Ireland.
His mental health began deteriorating almost immediately after returning to civilian life. But it wasn’t until 2009 that Andrew sought help and was officially diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
When asked what inspired him to take on this challenge, he said:
“This is my first fundraising event. I’ve been an arm-chair supporter of Combat Stress for several years, but until reflecting on life as part of my cancer journey I had never before considered actually doing something rather than simply donating!
“I can’t yomp across the Brecon Beacons or sprint up and down the three-peaks in Lycra, but I can push myself to a point of discomfort to achieve a personal goal and raise money for those veterans in need of mental health support, just like I was.
“I am currently able to walk around half a mile before my inner-voice tells me to give in. However, I am determined to push through. It might be slow, but I’ll get there.”
Andrew’s training for the challenge has involved 0.4-mile walks with his pacesetter, Shasha ( a rescued Basset Hound) on a route which takes the pair to the village green facing the late Captain Sir Tom Moore’s family home.
Every day, he sees the house and flowers, which inspire him to keep putting one foot in front of the other.