Blind veteran preparing for abseil from Forth Rail Bridge

Garry will abseil from the Forth Rail Bridge.
Garry will abseil from the Forth Rail Bridge.

A blind veteran who snapped his spine during a parachute jump will abseil off the Forth Rail Bridge next month.

Garry Cowan (36) was stationed at RAF Leuchars, when, in 2003, a parachute jump went wrong and he broke his back.

The St Andrews man had just learned to walk again when he lost his sight, after contracting chicken pox.

Left without a job or a home, he found himself sleeping on a friend’s couch, until MP Stephen Gethins stepped in and helped him find a council house.

Since then, Garry has battled to turn his life around with support from various charities including Fife Society for the Blind, which he will be raising funds for when he takes part in the abseil.

Garry has also been helped by other organisations including SSAFA and Blind Veterans UK, which re-introduced him to climbing.

He now trains with the GB Paralympic climbing team and has scooped major titles across the globe, as well as training at facilities for all but the hardiest of special forces personnel.

Garry has also received support from the University of St Andrews, which has awarded him an athletics scholarship.

He has also been using its new climbing wall to train.

Commenting on Garry’s success, Stephen Gethins said: “Garry is an inspiration – he has worked so hard to overcome so many difficulties.

“I was pleased to be able to help him find a house and with that he has come so far.

“I wish him all the very best for the abseil and hope he meets his £1000 target.

“Fife Society for the Blind provide invaluable support for local people affected by sight loss and it’s good to see someone who has benefitted, being able to give something back.”

Carl Hodson, chief executive of Fife Society for the Blind, said: “Over the last year, Garry hasn’t allowed his challenges to stop him leading life – he’s got such a fighting spirit and real determination to succeed which is fantastic.

“Garry’s progress has been remarkable and we wish him all the best in his Forth Rail Bridge abseil next month.”

If you would like to sponsor Garry, see