Tag Archives: like a tramp

The late Sergeant Fraser Stirling, 1 Royal Irish and the epidemic of PTSD

Sergeant Fraser Stirling, 1 R Irish

It is the time if year to thank you once more for supporting the blog and keeping interest in Paddy very much alive. A time also to wish all dear readers a very merry Christmas and a happy New year.

Many of you have got in touch commenting that I have not been on my annual charity walk this year; you seem to have missed my pleas for money! There are many reasons for this. The main one being that the subject of veteran mental health in the UK is reaching some sort of crisis point, and I don’t think that my time is best spent on just a simple fundraising exercise. I am exploring other ways of helping that may address the fundamental issues of supporting veterans.

This Christmas l ask that you consider making a donation to Combat Stress, the UK charity focused on veteran mental health and about to mark 100 years of support to veterans in 2019.

The importance of this issue is highlighted by the sad story of Sergeant Fraser Stirling, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, who, it is believed, killed himself on September 26, 2018. Sergeant Fraser Stuart Stirling, 1 Royal Irish Regiment, was just 30 years, and a fine soldier. He was the dearly loved son of Fiona and the late Karl Stirling, with a brother Eoghan, and devoted fiance Valeria. He was known as a loyal friend and colleague, and served alongside my son. Fraser was a veteran of three tours to Afghanistan, and rescued colleagues involved in an IED incident. Stirling, from Buckie in Moray, had offered to help other soldiers who were struggling with trauma-related disorders.

“He was helping me to help people with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder],” says Trevor Coult, a former Royal Irish colour sergeant who campaigns for better mental health care for veterans. “He had reached out to say, ‘Trev, I’ll give you a hand’, but he hadn’t said: ‘I need a hand.’”

Fraser’s death is just one of an estimated more than 50 veteran suicide’s this year. The true number is unknown as the NHS and MOD do not keep any accurate records. This report in the Daily Record indicated that one veteran committed suicide every 6 days in 2018.

The subject of veteran mental health is one that is pertinent to this blog. There is a strong belief that Billy Moss suffered some form of PTSD. I am sure many others from SOE will have experienced issues. It is much more likely that non-commissioned soldiers take their lives as research shows that not all have the strong support networks that many officers have.

The video attached to this story graphically shows some of the dreadful emotions felt by these soldiers. Jamie Davies, 4 Scots, the Highlanders, was a father of two, who killed himself in August during a period of almost an epidemic of suicide amongst Scottish soldiers. Before he died, Jamie filmed a powerful video detailing his post-traumatic stress disorder hell.

Donate to Combat Stress here.

Thank you and a Merry Christmas to you and those you love. Keep them close and support them.

Tom

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At it again – walking from Avebury to Winchester

Despite my protestations, my son Patrick has drawn me out of retirement again to take on another walk at Christmas, to live like tramps, and to raise money for the homeless.

This year we will walk a modest 60 miles along the Great Stones Way to Salisbury and then back to Winchester. I’m hoping we can complete this in not much more than three days. Perhaps four.

We will be raising money for again for Combat Stress and Shelter. If you would like to donate please visit our Just Giving page where they take all currencies!

Merry Christmas!!

Like a Tramp 2016 raises £1,500

Patrick, Teddy and Tom

Patrick, Teddy and Tom after a cold night in Exton church. A rare glimpse of the sun and blue sky which didn’t last.

Thank you to all who donated to Shelter and Combat Stress. Donations breached the £1,500 mark so we are very pleased. Fog and mist spoiled any views for the three and a half days we tramped along the South Downs Way which was a disappointment, but on the whole the weather was pretty kind; cold but no rain. As ever we walked like tramps seeking charitable shelter. We slept in churches and were offered drier accommodation near Midhurst which was a blessing.

If you would like to make a donation to help the homeless and veterans suffering from PTSD this Christmas, the Just Giving page remains open.

A Merry Christmas to you all.

Tom

https://www.justgiving.com/teams/likeatramp2016

Like a Tramp 2016

Completing my first walk to Bath in 2014

Completing my first walk to Bath in 2014

Hello to all Blog readers!

Thank you to so many of you for sponsoring me in the past as I have walked across southern England raising money for charity. This year, despite promising myself that I would retire from international competitive charity fundraising, I am off again.

This year (17-20 Dec) I will walk 70 miles along the South Downs Way with my son Patrick and his friend Teddy Chabo. We will walk as before, as tramps, sleeping rough and seeking charity and shelter along the way to continue our fund raising for Combat Stress and Shelter. Our goal is to continue to raise awareness of the need for support to veterans with mental health and PTSD issues, and the homelessness that can often come with it. These are two very worthy charities, and at this Christmas-tide, I am asking you once more, and for the last time, to make a small donation to help these causes.

Please visit our fundraising page linked below, and perhaps split any donation that you may make between the two charities, or give as you please.

To donate please click here to go to our Just Giving page.

Thank you from the three of us, and for all those who will be helped by your generosity and kindness.

A merry Christmas and a happy 2017 to you all.

With warm regards.

Tom Sawford

To donate please click here to go to our Just Giving page.

Catching up

Journey's end with Billy Moss' daughter Isabelle and Jody Cole Jones at Winchester Cathedral

Journey’s end with Billy Moss’ daughter Isabelle and Jody Cole Jones at Winchester Cathedral

I have returned. Some of you may have wondered if I had disappeared in a bog on my long walk before Christmas, others perhaps that there is nothing more to add to the Paddy blog.

Fortunately neither is true although the walk was massively hard. I suffered a bout of flu the week before and was quite uncertain if I would be well enough to start on time. The main symptoms did disperse, but I was very weak and probably not strong enough to tackle the hills and terrible ground conditions that we found (see this video here). It was not really until we reached drier conditions in Hampshire in the last two days that I had recovered my strength enough, but aided my by walking companion, my son, and the ever-present need to meet the target and raise money for the two chosen charities, we pressed on. We were joined by Billy Moss’ daughter Isabelle and his grand-daughter Jody Cole Jones for the last 10 km into Winchester. They wished to support the causes, and Combat Stress in particular, as they wanted to highlight their belief that Billy probably suffered from some form of post-traumatic stress which may have led to his early demise. The Just Giving page remains open for any final donations here.

Since then I have been in Germany celebrating Christmas with my youngest daughter Harriet, and then preparing for a new job which I started in the New Year. So I am now ready to get back in harness and present you with some fascinating material. As ever I am grateful to those of you who have been in touch with ideas and material. I look forward to a successful 2016 for us all and send you my best wishes.

Tom

Walking home for Christmas like a tramp

Tom in Bath at journey's end 2014

Tom in Bath at journey’s end 2014

Last year many of you made generous contributions to help me raise £2,500 for the homeless charity Shelter. This year I am almost doubling the distance I walk, and the nights out sleeping rough in the cold December weather, to achieve a doubling of the target to £5,000.

By Tom Sawford.

In December I will walk along the byways of England from the parish church of Ottery St Mary in Devon to Winchester Cathedral to raise awareness of the curses of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and related homelessness. The route of around 120 miles will take me about 5-6 days and I will walk as a tramp, living off the goodwill of strangers, and sleeping rough in order to meet the goal of raising £5,000 for two charities that work tirelessly to assist those who struggle with these issues.

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading Veterans’ mental health charity. Mental ill-health such as PTSD affects ex-Service men and women of all ages. Right now, the charity supports over 5,900 Veterans aged from 18 to 97, and spends over £15 million per annum delivering its unique range of specialist treatment and welfare support which is always free of charge.

Winchester Churches Nightshelter provides a vital lifeline to the homeless, and remains the only night shelter offering direct access emergency accommodation in Hampshire. They support up to 200 homeless people annually. Residents benefit from a programme of practical and emotional support to help them to rebuild their lives and escape homelessness for good. Many of the people they deal with are ex-military. There is a direct link between mental health problems such as PTSD and homelessness. Money raised will go direct to the homeless which I feel may be a better outcome than through a larger charity.

I hope that you will feel inspired to support the fundraising and make some (doubly !!!) generous contributions at the Just Giving page where you can choose to split your donations between the two charities if you wish.

Some of you have asked about joining the walk and you would be very welcome to do so for some or all of the route. The dates are likely to be 12th or 13th December to 17th or 18th although these could shift to the right by a couple of days. I will publish the full route very soon.

There is a public Facebook page if you want to follow the progress. https://www.facebook.com/walkinghomeforchristmas/

Thank you all very much. Please donate here. https://www.justgiving.com/teams/likeatramp

#combatstress #homelessness #homeless #veterans

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