IT was a busy month for one army veteran who ran 5k every day in November in support of an ex-service personnel support charity.
Last Thursday, Dundonald man Paul Muir crossed the finish line in his final run, all in support of the charity, Andy Allen Veteran’s Support (AAVS).
A former soldier of the Royal Irish Regiment, Paul ran 5k every day in November, the equivalent of over three marathons, raising £1,218 for the charity.
Joining the army at 17 years old, Paul unfortunately lost many close friends while serving, and has experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He served in Iraq in 2003 then again in 2004 and he also carried out a tour of Northern Ireland in between his service during the Iraq war.
Paul says he decided to take on the running challenge in recognition of the important services offered by AAVS to former soldiers like himself.
AAVS was founded by East Belfast MLA, Andy Allen in 2011. Like Paul he was once a soldier in the Royal Irish Regiment. Having lost both legs below the knee, and been partially blinded while in Afghanistan, Andy established the organisation to aid former armed forces personnel.
Aiding veterans, and their families, the £1,218 sum will go to fund vital services. These include counselling, respite breaks, employability support and support groups.
They also provide breakfast clubs, welfare assistance as well as benefits and housing advice.
“The charity doesn’t really get the backing that it should,” said Paul after completing his runs.
Paul described the importance of the charity, for those currently serving and those leaving the armed forces and he also reflected on the untimely loss of close colleagues, and the reality of mental health for combat veterans.
“Even to this day, my friends who are still serving, and those who got out at the same time as me, they still have the battle scars and life changing injuries. It means a lot to me doing it for them.
“These are people out there who have lost limbs, or who have battle scars and PTSD like myself.
Not expecting to raise the £1,218 sum, Paul welcomed the unexpected amount, thanking the selfless donors who supported him.
“I have seen the amount of people who have sponsored me, it has been super,” Paul said. “All my colleagues and my friends, we have all lost people who were close to us, who were part of the battalion, and who were friends with us.
“It was the Armed Forces, we were there to do our job but many people didn’t make it back to tell their story. I am here now as one of the lucky ones to have a voice to try and do a wee bit more for them,”
More information about AAVS can be found via the website at https://www.aavsni.com/.