MORE than 14 military veterans, carrying 100lb backpacks and a life size dummy on a World War One stretcher, climbed Ben Nevis last weekend to highlight the struggle of life in the military and the support available in the community.

Veterans - including an amputee wearing a prosthetic leg - joined serving personnel and military family members on the 2,300ft climb on Saturday, September 8 to raise money for SAMS.

They also donned T-shirts highlighting the message of 'End the Silence, End Suicide' following the shocking figures that 22 veterans take their own lives each day and that St Helens currently has the highest suicide rate in the country.

A JustGiving page set up to support the group is currently at £1,566.

One of the climbers was serving Royal Navy logistics officer Kieron Molyneux, who got involved with the group after being concerned for his fellow armed forces colleagues.

The 30-year-old dad-of-one, who recently surprised his five-year-old daughter at her school when he returned off a six-month stint in the Middle East, said: "It was a gruelling task to climb up there carrying all the gear, I've never done anything like this before personally, only as training exercises, so it was very overwhelming and rewarding.

"We took a World War One stretcher and carried up an artillery shell, which fellow climbers put donations in and we raised £350 just off the climb. Especially with being from St Helens, I think it's amazing to have places like SAMS, who support people for nothing but wanting to help others.

"Suicide in the armed forces, and not seeking support is a big issue, and I have seen how people serving can be affected and might need support to prevent them taking such steps.

"If just one person sees what we have done, even like those who asked about what we were doing on the climb, and take notice - then that could save one life and that to me makes it all worth it."

SAMS Armed Forces Support Hub holds Drop In sessions and a breakfast club at Saints' Totally Wicked Stadium every Thursday.

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