“If I hadn’t spoken to SSAFA, I probably wouldn’t be here now”, says soldier running London Marathon

The TCS London Marathon takes place on Sunday 21 April. Army soldier Ashley Chapman will be running his first marathon, with the goal to join an exclusive club and raise funds for SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity.

Ashley is a member of the Royal Horse Artillery based in Larkhill, Wiltshire. For him it provides a sense of purpose, daily structure, and a strong network of fellow servicemembers to befriend and rely upon. Yet when he began to struggle with his mental health in 2022, Ashley did not know where to turn for help. He had heard of SSAFA as an organization that could help.

In my recent interview with Ashley, he continued:

“In 2022 I suffered with anxiety and depression quite a lot, and I was in a bad place. Up until mid-year I hadn’t really spoken to anyone about it, so I reached out to someone from SSAFA and said, ‘I just need someone to talk to.’

“One of my friends from home also works for SSAFA, and he said, ‘Here’s some good people to talk to.’ They listened to what I had to say and pointed me in the right direction. If I hadn’t spoken to SSAFA, I probably wouldn’t be here now.”

Ashley has enjoyed long-distance running for years and has completed a handful of half-marathons. He ran the Winchester Trail Run half-marathon in January, and last May he ran the half-marathon in the Race for Men in Salisbury, raising money for prostate cancer research. Ashley wanted to challenge himself by attempting his first full marathon and decided to raise money for SSAFA while doing so.

“I’ve researched into it, and only 0.01% of people will ever run a marathon in their lifetime. I want to be a part of that club… How many people can say they’ve done that? When I got the ballot place for the London Marathon, I had a load of charities reach out to me. SSAFA helped me greatly, and I know other people that they have helped. It always would’ve been SSAFA.”

Ashley is mostly fundraising through friends and colleagues within the Army but has set up a JustGiving page for other donations. He received his place in the London Marathon through the ballot lottery system and feels passionate about helping SSAFA help others who are struggling like he did.

“The Army is a good network to reach out to for fundraising. It’s a very tight-knit community. I’m one of the mental health ambassadors for my regiment, and I sign post a lot of people to SSAFA. There’s a lot of ex-military that work for SSAFA, so you’ve always got someone there who will know what you’re going through.”

You can contribute to Ashley’s JustGiving page by visiting this link: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/ashley-chapman

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