Ex SAS Major and BBC presenter Ken Hames is facing his toughest challenge yet climbing the mountain Pen y Fan to help vulnerable, homeless and disadvantaged Veterans. As an ex-mountain troop commander Ken is no stranger to hills and bad weather but to commit to this degree of hardship in a concentrated period is no mean feat.
“there are far too many Veterans who are vulnerable and too many commit suicide. I’ve lost so many friends – friends I have served with, where we have had each others back and then them come out of the military, and times get tough. It’s such a terrible thing. It deeply saddens and frustrates me. So my climb is a call to action and my way of highlighting the appalling statistics of over Veteran mental health.”
In November 2020, The Royal College of Psychiatrists said mental health services were “overflowing” with patients, with growing numbers struggling to cope with anxiety, psychosis and depression.
The number of people needing support and advice because of suicidal thoughts has tripled, with similar trends being seen among those with anxiety disorders, the new data shows.
Ken is a supporter of Alabaré’s Homes for Veterans and their mental health support schemes. He also runs self-build projects for Veterans where they are able to build their own house while gaining skills for full time employment.
“without organisations like Alabare more veterans will find themselves in desperate situations and we need to act now to raise more money to help them. Out of the 15 Veterans who took part in the last Veteran Self Build scheme, six admitted to having contemplated suicide. We believe it is a combination of comradery, support and positive activity that helps Veterans rebuild their lives after hitting rock bottom.”
The proof of the Self Build is the difference that it makes to the Veterans taking part.
“Before Self-Build picked me up and straightened me out I was living in a hedgerow eating birdseed – my life has been transformed in a year!” said one Veteran Self Builder from Leominster.
Ex-Armed Service personnel come to Alabaré in need of a safe place to call home but this is only the beginning of their journey onto a fulfilling life. The charity works in partnership with mental health professionals and similar charities to provide a bespoke pathway of support looking at reducing the mental and physical health barriers to living a fulfilling life outside of the military. The charity knows that what it offers saves lives, rebuilds confidence in the future and can reunite broken families.
To put Ken’s Pen y Fan challenge into perspective by the time Ken completes it, he will have climbed 60, 000 feet twice the height of Everest from sea level. The last 25 ascents are encapsulated over a week where Ken’s 25 gruelling ascents of the 886m mountain will amount to over 38000 feet and will help him reach the magic figure of 150 ascents over his long career.
He first climbed Pen y Fan in 1974 as part of his training for parachuting, and while doing SAS selection went up it 12 times in a week.
“We wish Ken God’s speed and good luck in his Challenge. We should never underestimate how difficult Pen-y-Fan is, especially in difficult weather, but as a Mountain Guide and with his years of service in the Army, I have great confidence that Ken will achieve this goal. It is so good that his climb is going to encourage people to talk about their and their loved ones mental health, and how we can come around them to help them move forward positively,” said Alabaré’s CEO Andrew Lord.
To donate :go to Just Giving https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ken-hames4