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Cyclist takes on ‘Shetlands Challenge’ for UK Forces’ Mental Health

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Cyclist takes on ‘Shetlands Challenge’ for UK Forces’ Mental Health

On Sunday 18th June a team of four intrepid cyclists will set off from Northern Scotland on a dramatic 7-day, 750 km bike ride around the Orkney and Shetland islands – all to raise much-needed funds for UK veterans’ mental health charity, PTSD Resolution, through the Just Giving website.

Founded in 2009, PTSD Resolution provides therapy for forces’ veterans, reservists and their families. Therapy is free, effective and delivered both promptly and locally through a UK-wide network of 200 therapists – with treatment also available online or by phone.

The charity is a ‘lean’ operation with no salaried staff or assets, yet it has had well over 3,500 referrals to date. Therapy is delivered across an average of six sessions, with 78% of cases seeing an improvement in reported symptoms to the point where no further therapy is needed. This will be 78-year-old ex-Marine Jonathan Thomson’s fourth cycle ride for PTSD Resolution, and his fundraising total is currently sitting at an impressive £75,000. With a standard course of therapy costing the charity £750, and delivered for free, Jonathan has helped up to 100 veterans out of the darkness.

78-year-old ex-Marine Jonathan Thomson:

“Too many of our veterans suffer the evil effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. This wrecks their lives and deeply affects those of their families and close friends. It is also a major cause of suicide.”

Joining Jonathan on ‘Shetland ’23’ will be Jim, a former naval pilot; Matt, a former Royal Marine; and Jez, an ex-Marine and an amputee. The route will take the team from Forsinard in the Scottish Highlands to the northernmost point of Shetland – coinciding with the Longest Day on 21st June.

The 7-day schedule includes a great deal of island-hopping – 10 ferry crossings, with one overnight – and some very complicated timings. Bikes will be laden with all their kit as the team will have no support and very little backup. “We are not the youngest team on the road either,” Jonathan says. “When we start, we will be 78, 73, 64 and 42.”

All costs are covered privately by the team, so all funds raised will go directly to PTSD Resolution.Training for ‘Shetland ’23′ has been underway for months and is intensifying as the date draws closer. “Cycling 100km or more in a day is not difficult – but doing so for seven days causes tiredness to build up,” Jonathans says.

“If we are to achieve our goal, we have to be fit, strong and well prepared, which means we train at least four days a week, sometimes for 3-4 hours. So ‘Shetland ’23’ is indeed a challenge! Getting fit and strong enough is a bit like baking a cake – an uncertain business and one never knows whether all is well until the day comes.”

Since his 2020 solo cycle around the north coast of Scotland, Jonathan’s expeditions have steadily gained momentum. In 2021, he was joined by fellow cyclists for ‘Raid ’21’, a gruelling journey across the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic – and last year a team of four cycled the length and breadth of Wales.

This year, the ‘Shetland ’23’ team are hoping to hit a new fundraising record.

PTSD Resolution CEO, Charles Highett:

“Jonathan’s various challenges have, to date, facilitated the mental health recovery of 100 UK veterans. PTSD Resolution has helped over 3600 veterans, reservists and family members recover their mental health, and we continue to receive an average of 8 new referrals a week. Jonathan and his cycling teams display the sort of energy and dedication that enables us to continue in our important work.

“We thank Jonathan and the ‘Shetland ’23’ team as they train and prepare – and ask all potential donors to support this valiant effort as far as they are able.”

You can help ‘Team Shetland ’23’ help UK Veterans, Reservists & families at JustGiving

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