Why are South Tyneside veterans to march Hadrian's Wall for PTSD charity
A number of South Tyneside veterans will march the length of Hadrian’s Wall in honour of colleagues and friends who have struggled with mental health issues.
Former and current armed forces members from the borough will join hundreds of others in the North East on the three-day trek from Friday, September 20 to Monday, September 23.
The event, which is being called ‘Not just another brick in the wall’, will see around 180 veterans set off from Lanercost Priory in Brampton, Cumbria and finishing at Heddon-on-the-Wall in Northumberland.
They are hoping to raise £100,000 for armed forces charity Care for Casualties, which supports veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
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Each participant will carry a brick bearing the name of a veteran who has taken their own life as a result of the mental illness.
The bricks will then be collected and sent to the Light Infantry Museum in Bodmin in Cornwall, where they will be used to build a well for further donations.
Derek Winter, Dekka Wells and Barry Sleightholme, who all come from South Shields and served in the Durham Light Infantry together will be taking part.
Derek, 57, who was born in Tyne Dock and now serves in the 8 Rifles regiment in Shropshire, will carry three bricks in memory of friends he has lost.
“Over the many years I have been in the forces I have seen this affect many of my colleagues and unfortunately some of them have found it too much and have taken their own life,” said Derek.
“It’s such a big thing, everybody knows somebody who it has affected. There’s nobody doing the walk who doesn’t understand what we’re doing it for.”
Derek will carry bricks from the recently demolished Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury which are over 100 years old.
He continued: “This is to get the message out that people are suffering.
“It’s one of those things that can affect anyone no matter who you are.”
The veterans are already almost halfway to their target, having raised £47,000 so far.
Derek added: “It’s so close to us that it has just got bigger and bigger.
“I have no doubt that we will raise the £100,000 and possibly beyond.”