Armed Forces veterans from across Wales will unite to raise funds for support service Change Step by tackling the nation’s three highest peaks this weekend.
Around 15 peer mentors, volunteers and service users will mark the hundredth anniversary of the last day of the Battle of the Somme by joining forces to summit Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan.
The gang hope to raise thousands of pounds in sponsorship as they attempt to complete the endurance challenge inside 24 hours.
They’ll begin their challenge from the ACF Drill Hall in Bethesda on Saturday morning, and hope to scale all three peaks by breakfast time on Sunday. Members of the Welsh Guards will offer their support along the way.
Eight of the participants, including veteran and peer mentor Kevin Bogdan, come from the Swansea and Port Talbot area – with others from Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Brecon and across North Wales.
Kevin said he was pleased to help raise the profile of a vital support service for veterans who might otherwise “fall between the gaps”.
“I can’t praise highly enough the support network and everything that’s on offer to help people who were, like myself, so down that they can’t see any way out of anything,” he said.
“Being a peer mentor is so satisfying – it’s giving to the lads what I didn’t have; the support that wasn’t there.
“Being in the position where I can help them through Change Step has got to be the best feeling ever. It’s a pleasure to go to work.”
Change Step director Geraint Jones praised the efforts of the group as they seek to raise awareness of their efforts in communities across the country.
“We hope people will back the team from Change Step as they battle the elements and the Welsh mountains to raise as much as they can,” he said.
Change Step has supported around 1,200 veterans and their families throughout Wales since launching in 2014, offering a wraparound service to help tackle problems with criminal justice issues, adverse physical and mental health, substance misuse, housing, benefits, training, and employment.
Peer mentors have spent approaching 30,000 hours delivering valuable and effective one-on-one, veteran-to-veteran support throughout Wales, alongside a host of partner organisations.
Earlier this year, the part played by Change Step was recognised by the Call to Mind: Wales report, published by the Forces in Mind Trust.
The FiMT research underlined the value of Change Step, as recognised by the statutory, voluntary and veterans’ sectors. In it, Change Step is described as a “vital bridging mechanism”, “best in class” and a “highly cost-effective” service.
Picture: (L to R) Dave Evans, Steve Stokoe and Kevin Bogdan from Change Step are amongst those taking to the hills next weekend