Belfast Telegraph

Afghanisan soldier Barney hits the heights in spite of losing a leg

By Victoria O'Hara

An inspirational soldier whose leg was blown off while on patrol in Afghanistan has raised thousands of pounds for charity by climbing five mountains.

Barney Gillespie (26), from Ballymena, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and was critically wounded by a Taliban bomb.

But this week Barney, along with a support team, climbed five mountains across the UK and Ireland – completing the Five Peaks Challenge.

They tackled Carrauntoohil in Co Kerry, Mount Snowden in Wales, Scafell Pike in England and Ben Nevis in Scotland before finishing on Co Down's Slieve Donard on Thursday.

Barney said he wanted to help raise funds for the Army Benevolent Fund.

"It was for all their help whilst I was recovering and prove that despite having a prosthetic leg I could still climb the five highest mountains in the UK and Ireland," he said.

But Barney didn't initially believe he would be able to do it after the challenge was suggested. "I went up Slieve Donard with a friend. My leg was quite sore, but I said I should be able to take on the five peaks."

He said the hardest moment was during the descent on Ben Nevis. "That was the longest – it took me 10-and-a-half hours. Coming down, I had one of those moments of 'what I am doing?' But we all got through it.

"It was a real sense of achievement when we finished. This was the most physical challenge I've taken on."

You can support Barney's appeal by texting ARMY NI to 70004, which automatically donates £3

Belfast Telegraph


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