Three local forces’ veterans will spend a night under the stars in a nearby forest to raise money for the the Royal British Legion.
Mark McPherson, John Forbes and Stewart Frazer are taking part in the Great Tommy Sleep Out, an annual campaign to support the estimated 6,000 veterans that are currently experiencing homelessness in the UK. Every penny raised will go towards the cause.
John, who served with the Royal Scots, said: “Our veterans don’t get the support they need. We know exactly first hand, the troubles that can play on your mind.
“I’ve served in war zones, and luckily i’ve not had to deal with PTSD, but I’ve had some bad times, and it’s always great to know I’ve got the British Legion to fall back on.”
The sleep out aims to raise a minimum of £150, and John said they’ve already hit £935, just days after announcing their intention.
John said: “We’re completely blown away by the generosity of the public. Especially in these uncertain times. It’s hard enough for people to make ends meet, and they just find it in their hearts to support a great cause.”
He spoke of the camaraderie, not only between the three, but in the forces in general. “Mark was planning to go on holiday when I asked if he fancied doing this, he just said, ‘no bother’, no questions asked,” John added.
Twenty-four hours in the wild
He said the sleep out is a 24-hour stint from midday on 14 March.
“We’ll stick it out, we’ll have a bit of a laugh. We’re going to be as authentic as we can, hence the reason we’re just under a poncho, we’re using 24-hour rations, mess tins and our sleeping bags. We’re going to go up and into the woods, as we would have done when we were serving.”
Having serviced in the forces, the trio are used to facing difficult conditions. John explained their kit is designed for camping out in extreme weather conditions where the temperature could be 20 below, or in the desert at 30 above. They’re expecting Dunphail to be somewhere in between.
“It’ll be cold, but I’m sure we’ll take something to keep us warm.
“We’ll just sit and chat, reminisce about old times when we were serving. Mark and I spent a lot of time in the pipe band, so there’ll be old stories that we’ll have a laugh about.”
Sponsor forms are available from the RBLS and Highland Army Surplus store in the high street.
The Highland Army Surplus also donated food rations which the trio will cook over a camp fire.