A disabled veteran trekked 96km across the ridgeway in a wheelchair to raise money for charities that have saved the lives of men and the disabled from suicide.

Nick Wilson, 45, lives in Northamptonshire and in his 14 years as a soldier he spent many years at Dalton Barracks in Abingdon.

During men’s health week on June 18 and 19, Mr Wilson, with the help of his fellow fundraisers, took on the challenge in his off-road mobility chair and travelled from the Lord Wantage Monument to Barbury Castle in Wroughton, Swindon and back again.

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This is a journey he would often do when he was at Dalton Barracks; however, this was the first time he had tackled it in his chair.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Wilson said: “We used to do weighted runs in the Ridgway all the time, it felt like going home for me.”

He added: “I don’t think we fully appreciated how bad the terrain was going to be. At times I was trying to drive the wheelchair on the top of two wedges of clay. It took us an hour to do 400 metres at one point.”

The veteran served in the British Army from 1999 to 2014 and took part in operations across the world.

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Five years ago, he attempted suicide and after completing a rehabilitation course, he set up Talk Mental Health in 2017 to support others struggling with mental health issues.

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He has since struggled with suicidal thoughts, suffered with chronic pain and a decline in his spinal injury, which has resulted in him becoming reliant on a wheelchair.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Wilson wants to improve accessibility in public spaces, and he also wants to inspire people who are newly disabled to get out there and challenge themselves.

He said: “When you become newly disabled all the stuff you used to be able to do you can’t and there is a massive journey to go on.”

He added: “You can get out and do this, there is a way of making this happen, but you have to push yourself and challenge yourself. When you do, you begin to feel like you are living again.”

Oxford Mail:

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He is also a campaigner for men’s mental health and explained that three out of four suicides in the UK are of males.

Mr Wilson said: “The message has been about talking so much, but people are having a chat with their mates and think they have done it.

"There is awareness now, but we need to move past awareness, and we need to be taking action, we need to encourage and empower men to take action.”

To help Mr Wilson fundraise for mental health and disability charities visit his 96 for 96 Challenge Go Fund me page.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Rebecca Whittaker, she joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Rebecca covers education and news in Abingdon and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Rebecca.Whittaker@newquest.co.uk or calling 07824524333

Follow her on Twitter @RebecWhitt

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