Stevenage veteran who lost eye in Afghanistan completes Three Peaks Challenge for charity, and holds fundraising evening
- Credit: Archant
A former soldier from Stevenage who lost an eye in Afghanistan has completed the ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ to raise £1,700 for a veterans’ charity, and will be holding a fundraising evening and football auction on Saturday night.
Items going under the hammer at Tom Tiddler’s Tavern in Symonds Green include a Euro 96-vintage England shirt signed by Alan Shearer and current Stevenage boss Teddy Sheringham, a Tottenham Hotspur shirt signed by this season’s squad, a weekend in Blackpool and hospitality tickets to a Stevenage home game.
All proceeds will go to Veterans in Action, a UK-based charity that helps veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or struggling to re-adjust to civilian life.
“As a former soldier, Veterans in Action is a charity that means a lot to me,” said Stuart Mendelson, 32.
Stuart reached the rank of lance-corporal with the Royal Engineers before a roadside explosion in Helmand in 2009 claimed his right eye and ended his time in the forces.
On September 27 he attempted the Three Peaks Challenge – which involves scaling Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike, the highest peaks in Scotland, Wales and England, all within 24 hours – alongside two friends from Stevenage, Alex Robertson-Cox and Jason Reynolds.
The Stevenage lads finished with just 17 minutes left, sprinting down Snowdon to finish with a time of 23 hours and 43 minutes.
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“We were so pleased to have completed the ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ for such a good cause,” said Stuart.
“To have achieved it within 24 hours was a remarkable feat really as we had to navigate through the night over Scarfell Pike with some serious fatigue kicking in!”
VIA takes a non-therapy approach, using expeditions and outdoor events such as the Three Peaks Challenge to help rebuild veterans’ self-esteem and confidence.
It has designated October PTSD Awareness Month. October 10, the date of the auction, has been marked as World Mental Health Day since 1992.
Stuart hopes that events such as Saturday night’s auction can help raise awareness of the difficulties faced by many ex-forces personnel.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder is such a serious condition,” he said. “More veterans killed themselves in 2012 than were actually killed in combat during the Afghanistan campaign.
“The work that Veterans in Action do to rehabilitate veterans has never been more vital. We don’t want to end up in the same situation as the USA, where it is estimated that an average of 22 veterans are killing themselves every day.
“We would ask as many people as possible to come down to our charity evening to help support this fantastic charity.”
Doors open at 7pm. There will also be a raffle, live music from the Egg and Bacon Band and other fun.