Lanarkshire ex-soldier to climb summit to raise funds for armed forces charity

An ex-soldier is climbing Ben A’an to raise funds for charity that helped him cope with his injuries.

Andy McIntosh, chairman of SSAFA Lanarkshire and ex-soldier of Cheshire Regiment, has taken on a new mission to raise money for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

The idea to climb Ben A’an originally came from a fitness facility, Strathaven FTPT who he has been working with.

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Andy’s goal is to scale the 1512ft summit and smash his £1000 fundraising target.

Because of injuries sustained during his service, his ascent to the peak is likely to take five, perhaps more, hours, with an overnight camp before his descent the following day.

Andy told Lanarkshire Live : “I was injured in an incident while serving, but left the Army fully fit – or that’s what I thought.

“One day at work, I collapsed and after much investigation it was found that I had over a hundred blood clots.

“The main vein that carries the blood from my leg back to my heart had disintegrated and this was put down to the trauma of the incident.

“I was told back in 2011 I would never be able to work again and for the next 10 years, I was living in chronic, constant pain, and was pumped full of morphine and other painkillers.

“That in turn has damaged my kidneys and one of my lungs is permanently collapsed due to this medication.

“But SSAFA helped me through some of the darkest days and had it not been for them – well, I wouldn’t be here now.”

Andy described how, in 2019, he was prescribed cannabis spray for his pain, allowing him to come off opiates.

He told us : “It was life changing.

“The ‘fog’ opiates gave me lifted, but one of my greatest passions before this all happened was walking the hills of Scotland. To be told I would never be able to do this again or any form of exercise was a killer for me.”

Andy now volunteers for SSAFA helping other veterans and is now branch chairman for SSAFA Lanarkshire.

Andy, who uses crutches day-to-day, said that one of the biggest things for him was finding Lucy Dawson and Alan Clark of Strathaven Fitness and Personal Training.

He commented: “They have not let any of my disabilities stand in the way and have helped me believe I can do anything again; giving me the sense of being part of a team again.

“When they came up with this walk up Ben A’an, I thought they were crazy, but they are pushing me to achieve my goal of walking up a hill once more.

“And with the help of the team we will raise vital funds for SSAFA to support other veterans in Scotland.”

Lucy Dawson from Strathaven FTPT stated: “Andy has been working hard in the gym to ensure he is as strong and fit as possible to get to the summit.

“The whole Team FTPT are behind him and there should be around 10 of us walking with him on the day.

“We’ll make sure he achieves his goal of being back in the hills again. Andy is an inspiration to the rest of the members as he gives it his all and we make sure his disabilities don’t define what he can achieve.”

To support Andy, visit his Just Giving page here.

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Daily Record – Aberdeen