A team of five Not Forgotten beneficiaries called Five Decide to Thrive have taken on the gruelling challenge of travelling from Devon to the peak of Mount Everest.
Hutch, Damian, Andy, Martin, and Steve are looking to build resilience, teamwork, and a sense of purpose as they kindly give back to The Not Forgotten to support other veterans.
Learn more about the team and their journey, by reading their blog below!
“The five of us are going to spend the majority of 2021 virtually travelling to the summit of Mount Everest. We couldn’t think of a more difficult place to reach! It’s 5,000 miles away, so we knew it would be a gritty challenge.
The Not Forgotten are the organisation that brought this team together – four of us met on a Kayaking trip in July 2019, and one more joined us at an event in Plymouth a few months later. So, we’re using this challenge as a chance to give back and to help them continue to support other Veterans in need.
Our team all live with PTSD, we look out for each other and keep in regular contact to make sure that everyone’s well and given support when they need it. There are days when some of us struggle just to get out of bed, but we do. We use the Buddy-Buddy system between us, and that’s vitally important because anything involving mental health can be akin to being trapped in a deep, dark hole, it can feel almost impossible to climb out, but if you have someone who has been in that same hole before then surely they can show you the way out?
We’ve chosen the team name of Five Decide to Thrive because we don’t want to just survive, we really want to thrive. To thrive, you have to go out there, grab life by the scruff and move forward, get out of your safe place and escape the 4 walls; this is what we’re doing. Veterans often cling to the past because they cannot escape those memories and end up forever reliving dark days; it can stop you from achieving wonderful things in the present.
Lockdown has been difficult and restricting in many ways, but we decided that now is a better time than any to take ownership of where we are mentally and do something positive. We’ve all served, we now understand our differing situations, and we want to stand up and do something for charities that have helped us.
A challenge like this gives us all a real sense of purpose, and it’s a stepping stone towards us doing more and more. It could lead to more fundraising, it could lead to volunteering, but either way, it ensures we have direction.
Our target is an average weekly mileage of 100 miles a week. We’re doing whatever we can to make up the miles, whether that’s Walking, Hiking, Running, Tabbing, Yomping, Cycling, Kayaking or Swimming. Some of us are doing it with weighted bergans on our backs as well (not whilst swimming) It’s tough, and with a combined age of 236, there’s a lot of wear and tear on our bodies. We are picking up some injuries along the way, but we’re making sure that as a team, we’re able to pick up someone else’s miles if they’re struggling. Right now, we’re 175 miles ahead of schedule, and at our current pace, we might end up with all 5 of us being a bit above the summit of Everest on Remembrance Day 2021.
Ultimately, we’re hoping that some other veterans who see this might be inspired to do something similar as well. It doesn’t have to be physical, you can do other things – the key is to find that Buddy, albeit 1 or 101 and just look out for each other.
If we could somehow change one life through this challenge (perhaps that person is reading this right now), then that alone would make every single damn mile worth it. This team has sadly spent years at the sharp end of PTSD; we know what Veterans and their families go through, what their struggles are. A challenge like this is about purpose, teamwork, self worth and belief, and above all supporting each other. It’s been the biggest step towards our recovery.
You are Not Forgotten!”
If you would like to support the Five Decide to Thrive, fundraiser, you can do so here.