A team of Army veterans stopped off in Morpeth yesterday during the North East stage of their epic 1,000-mile walk.
All six of the team doing the challenge to raise money for and awareness of the charity Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) have either physical or cognitive injuries sustained in the line of duty while serving with British and US forces.
The 72-day initiative started in Scotland on August 22 and it entered Northumberland on Monday. If all goes to plan, they will finish the Walk Of Britain at Buckingham Palace on November 1.
The team is made up of Stewart Hill, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2009 in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, Matt Fisher, who had his left leg amputated after being shot in the foot, and Alec Robotham, who suffered a series of severe arm and leg injuries after a suicide bomb attack in Helmand Province.
Scott Ransley was left blind in his right eye as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device whilst clearing a bomb-making factory, Kirstie Ennis suffered a catalogue of injuries following a helicopter crash in Afghanistan resulting in 38 surgeries and Andrew Bement suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a traumatic brain injury.
The participants are engaging with local communities every day to highlight the extraordinary determination of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women and raise awareness of what WWTW is doing across the country to support them back into independence through long-term employment.
Mr Hill wants to be an artist and the charity funded the fees, accommodation and transport costs for four short art courses at a prestigious venue in London, which gave him a much greater level of knowledge and understanding of painting.
He said: “This walk is taking us back to who we were when we were in the military.
“We’ve been reminded of the comradeship, dark humour, determination and joy of carrying out an arduous and demanding activity together. We’re all certain that we will all complete the 1,000 miles.
“This challenge is particularly hard for the members of the team with physical injuries, but they don’t want to let themselves, the team and the charity down, which encapsulates the military ethos.”
On their journey, the team will be joined by other wounded veterans to lend their support as well as a number of celebrities and famous faces including Prince Harry, the expedition patron for the Walk of Britain.
Mr Fisher said: “Previous expeditions for the charity have gone to the North Pole and South Pole, so the idea for this one is for us to engage with the public.
“We’ve had nothing but words of encouragement and many people we’ve met have made generous donations. We had a particularly good reception and send off in Amble.
“The challenge is corporately funded, so every penny donated during it goes towards the charity’s programmes.”
The walk is sponsored by a different partner each week and the North East leg was sponsored by Virgin Money.
For more information about the challenge and to make a donation, visit http://walkingwiththewounded.org.uk/walkofbritain2015