75-Year-Old Falklands Veteran Marches for Army Charity
A 75-year-old Falklands veteran was the eldest to compete in this year’s Cateran Yomp, raising £3.5K in the process.
Starting at 6am on Saturday and ending in the early hours of Sunday morning, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity’s Cateran Yomp challenged teams of brave souls to walk 22, 36 or 54 miles in less than 24 hours. Over 1200 participants enjoyed favourable weather on the 54-mile route around the foothills of the Cairngorms, with the distraction of live music, magically lit forests and fireworks.
Participants, aged 16 to 75, travelled from as far as the US, Lebanon, New Zealand, Ukraine, Italy and Germany, to walk side by side on a 24-hour trek across the beautiful hills and glens of the historic Cateran Trail in Perthshire. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is the Army’s National Charity and provides a lifetime of support to serving soldiers, former soldiers, and their immediate families when they are in need, minimising hardship and encouraging independence and dignity.
John Aitken from Kenilworth in Warwickshire completed the 22-mile route (‘Bronze’) in 10.5 hours with his sons Nick, currently a serving officer, from Bristol and Ben from Sutton Coldfield.
John, a survivor of the Sir Galahad bombing in 1982, spent 24 years in the dental corps as a dentist. Having supported the charity since 2018, he has now raised over £3.5K through the Cateran Yomp and other events.
He said, “It was a daunting prospect and difficult to train for, but I took part in the charity’s Frontline Walk twice before, so doing the Yomp was the next step. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is such a worthwhile cause. Many soldiers and veterans need support, and it’s up to those who can help to do so. It was a tough walk on a very hot day but a tremendous experience to take part with my sons Nick and Ben.”
The Cateran Yomp has raised millions of pounds for the charity, with donations funding everything from wheelchair ramps for soldiers’ homes to respite care and personal recovery plans for injured soldiers returning from the front line. In FY 22/23 alone, the charity supported around 70,000 members of the Army Family in 45 countries around the world; the youngest beneficiary was just three months old and the oldest was aged 103.
This year’s event was sponsored by The Famous Grouse, alongside Dover Fuelling Solutions, Arnold Clark Car and Van Rental, Land Rover Pentland, and Leonardo. The Cateran Yomp also works with a range of local sponsors who donate gifts in kind for the event, including Castle Water, Mackie’s of Scotland and Tunnocks.
Reflecting on the weekend, Major General Tim Hyams CB OBE, Chief Executive of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, commented: “The Cateran Yomp is a flagship event for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and has this year seen record participation. I am hugely grateful to every single participant; all of whom have demonstrated significant mental and physical resilience, and an evident sense of teamwork. In so doing, they have made a tangible difference to our ability, as the Army’s national charity, to be there for soldiers, for life.”