Northamptonshire veteran with PTSD takes on gruelling charity lockdown challenge to inspire others
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Gareth Humphrey is supporting SSAFA and Changing Minds with his challenge, which he hopes will inspire others to get active and started last week.
The 40-year-old ex-soldier and firefighter from Brixworth has nearly hit his £1,000 target already having completed 80km so far with no plans to stop.
"It's been emotional, I'm still having treatment for my PTSD having been diagnosed in March so I take each day as it comes," he said.
"Sometimes I struggle to get out of bed and I struggle a lot with anxiety from the situations I have been in but I've got a great support network and missus at home.
"I haven't missed a day yet and I don't intend to but some days are more challenging mentally than physically, which is what it's all about as well as raising money."
Gareth spent seven years in the army, including being among the first troops in Iraq in 2003, and 10 years with Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service at Brixworth Fire Station.
In February last year, the father suffered a mental breakdown causing him to lose his job, his relationship and his house and he ended up living in a caravan and relying on food banks to eat.
"I was in a hole of darkness, living on my own, going from the bed to the sofa and back, I contemplated suicide and had counselling which was hard as it brought up things from the past," he said.
Armed forces charity SSAFA helped Gareth get back on his feet by assisting him to get a new house while Changing Minds provided counselling, which led to the PTSD diagnosis.
Now back in Brixworth with a new partner, he is doing better but still gets low sometimes and one day he decided to go for a hike after a year of doing very little exercise.
Gareth came up with the challenge while he was out and has been doing it since the third coronavirus lockdown started on January 5.
He posts daily updates on his Facebook page in a bid to inspire others to get out during the lockdown to help people's mental health when it can be easy to do nothing.
"I know how that feels and it's a spiral downhill, once the head is lost it's difficult to get back on your feet so I'm using that to motivate me, which hopefully will motivate others," he said.
The 10km usually takes Gareth around an hour and a half to complete with a handful of different routes to choose from - he plans to keep going until the lockdown ends.
Gareth hopes to do a special hike from The George Inn in Brixworth with a bit of a party once pubs have reopened and things are more normal.
To donate, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gareth-humphrey-1.