DecAid: Remembering ten years in Afghanistan

In August this year four volunteers will scale all 283 of the Munro mountains in Scotland in an attempt to raise money for charities supporting British Troops.

The team, all members of DecAid, an appeal launched by a dynamic group of young people, many of whom are from the Officer Training Corps at Exeter University, will aim to complete the challenge in 50 days.

Each summit will be dedicated to service personnel who have made the final sacrifice as a result of the Afghan war.

Founder, Tom O’Connell, told Women at War that the hardest thing about the mission would be going for 7 weeks without a break.

“Keeping going for that long isn’t something that the body is used to.

“It will be as hard mentally as it is physically and in a way preparing yourself mentally is a lot harder than preparing physically.”

“It doesn’t matter if you are fit enough to finish the challenge if your mind doesn’t want to carry on!”

They will cover the 1600 mile route using kayaks and bikes but most of it will be done on foot.

So far the DecAid team have raised over £6,000 and have received accolades from the Prime Minister, and HRH the Duchess of Cornwall has agreed to be their Royal Patron.

A good start for an appeal which aims to raise £350,000 through a range of events, for SSAFA Forces Help, BLESMA and Talking2Minds in the tenth anniversary year of British Forces in Afghanistan.

“We were keen not to start our own charity but to support the work of these three charities who we believe address many of the effects of the conflict on British service personnel and their families.”

Says co-founder, Rupert Laing.

Consisting of over 50 volunteers up and down the country, many of whom have serving friends due to go out to Afghanistan or come from service families, DecAid have organised a wide range of events.

As well as the Munro mission, events include 2011 pipers and drummers making their way down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh on Armed Forces Day and a memorial service at Salisbury Cathedral in December, during which a candle will be lit for every soldier killed.

What makes this appeal different is the fact that all the volunteers are under the age of 25.

“We recognise that over half of the British Service men and women to have lost their lives in Afghanistan over the past decade have been aged between 18 and 25.

“We believe it is appropriate for our age group to show our support.”

Explains Rupert.

Many of the volunteers are still studying.

“This means that we must be constantly aware of the fact that all of the team members have a number of priorities to fit their work around.”

However, the team is enthusiastic and training for the Munro Mission has already begun.

There is no doubt that the DecAid team have a big challenge ahead of them this year, yet, with such a strong line-up of events they are well on their way to meeting their target.

Find out more go to the  DecAid website

To remember a loved one go to the DecAid Remembrance wall

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