RAF veteran: I live with constant involuntary spasms, now I’m completing Munro challenge

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An RAF veteran living in Fife hopes his bid to walk up Ben More to complete the Munros, will help encourage other ex-servicemen and women to come forward to get support when they need it.

Allan Ferguson, 53, and known as Fergie to his friends and family, has been struggling with a functional neurological disorder since 2018. He was medically discharged in February 2020 after nearly 30 years of service, owing to involuntary spasms that affect his balance and make it almost impossible to complete everyday activities, and which has also impacted his mental health.

Fergie reached out to the charity Help for Heroes two years ago, and the Charity has been helping him learn to manage his condition. He wants to let other veterans know that they do not have to suffer in silence and that help is available if they need it.

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The organisation has seen 1845 people come forward across Scotland - but it believes that there is a high level of unmet need.

Allan Ferguson hopes his bid to walk up Ben More to complete the Munros, will help encourage other ex-servicemen and women to come forward to get support when they need it.  (Pic: Submitted)Allan Ferguson hopes his bid to walk up Ben More to complete the Munros, will help encourage other ex-servicemen and women to come forward to get support when they need it.  (Pic: Submitted)
Allan Ferguson hopes his bid to walk up Ben More to complete the Munros, will help encourage other ex-servicemen and women to come forward to get support when they need it. (Pic: Submitted)

Fergie said: “For someone like me, who was always really active before, my condition has had a real impact on my quality of life. It means I live with constant involuntary spasms, which even affect my ability to walk, and so completing the walk up Ben More will be an enormous challenge.

“If you’d asked me a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to complete this walk, but thanks to Help for Heroes and with the support of my family, I’ve got the confidence to give it a go.”

Hill walking was a big part of Fergie’s life and he completed all but one of the Munros before his health deteriorated. He will be accompanied on the 3,190 ft walk up Ben More by his wife Pauline, daughter Alanah and his Help for Heroes coordinator Emma Weir, and thinks it will take him around eight hours to complete his challenge on 3 July.

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He added: “I want to prove to other former servicemen and women that whatever the challenges they may be facing, there is support for them to get on with their lives and they don’t need to suffer in silence.

“Help for Heroes can offer support for physical and mental health problems, but also offers the chance to take part in activities with other veterans. This really helps to meet with like-minded people and stops you feeling so isolated.”

Fergie has taken part in the Help for Heroes residential Community Sports Series – a fully accessible multi-sports event that introduces veterans and their families to something new – and has attended Recovery College courses, to help him manage his condition. He has also received funding through the Veterans’ Mobility Fund to buy a trike, so he can get out and about more.

Emma Weir, a sport, activity and fellowship practitioner with the Charity, said: “It’s a real privilege to be supporting Fergie to complete this challenge, as he is such an inspiration. We are determined to make sure no veteran suffers in silence, and, if this can help encourage others to reach out, then that is even better.”

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Help for Heroes offers a range of services to help veterans, supporting them to overcome physical, mental health and welfare challenges. It runs a wide range of sporting, leisure and social activities to combat loneliness and isolation, and to improve wellbeing.

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