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Veteran to take on 933km journey to raise money for Help for Heroes

Darren Hardy said he would not be here without the help he received from the charity.

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Darren Hardy will set off on his epic journey on Monday (Handout/PA)

Darren Hardy will set off on his epic journey on Monday (Handout/PA)

Darren Hardy will set off on his epic journey on Monday (Handout/PA)

A veteran has set off on a 933km journey to raise money for Help for Heroes.

Darren Hardy, 34, will be paddleboarding 112km from the east to west coast of Scotland, cycling 779km from Fort William to Badbury and running a marathon to Tedworth House in Salisbury to raise money for the charity.

After spending 15 years in the Army from 2003 to 2017, serving in Northern Ireland and Iraq, the experiences left a lasting impact on Mr Hardy.

Diagnosed with PTSD, Mr Hardy was also left with a seriously injured shoulder.

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Darren Hardy setting up camp in the Arctic (Handout/PA)

Darren Hardy setting up camp in the Arctic (Handout/PA)

Darren Hardy setting up camp in the Arctic (Handout/PA)

Sport and training became a big part of his life as part of his recovery after he was medically discharged, and Mr Hardy became a double gold medallist and Warrior Games record breaker.

He now hopes to channel that energy into this cause.

Mr Hardy, who is from Fleet in Hampshire, said: “I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the help and support I got from the Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds team for my PTSD.

“I now want to give back and have a purpose in life. I know that this event will test me to my limits both physically and mentally, but I want to make a difference, inspire and change the lives of others that are less capable or can’t change it themselves.

“I want them to live life to the fullest every single day.”

Married with two daughters, Mr Hardy finds taking on these extreme challenges helps to channel his PTSD.

He also takes time to share his stories, in the hope it may help others who are suffering from poor mental health.

He added: “My injuries impact on my life every day.

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Darren Hardy, 2nd from right, during his time in the armed forces (Handout/PA)

Darren Hardy, 2nd from right, during his time in the armed forces (Handout/PA)

Darren Hardy, 2nd from right, during his time in the armed forces (Handout/PA)

“I have now created a bulletproof mindset where I wake up at either 0320 or 0420 and seize the day by extreme physical training.

“Pushing myself physically also helps my mental wellbeing, so I want to motivate others to do the same so they can feel the benefits for themselves.

“If I can help just one person, then I have achieved a small goal.”

David Martin, head of supporter fundraising at Help for Heroes, said: “We’re so grateful for what Darren is doing for us – not one, but two incredible challenges!

“Research we’ve carried out shows there’s been a big increase in veterans telling us that they aren’t managing their mental and physical health so well since the start of the pandemic, so the need for support is greater than ever, but we’re also having to manage a 40% drop in income at the same time.

“Darren knows first-hand how important our support can be, and it’s wonderful that he’s giving back in this way to ensure we can continue to support other veterans in need.”

You can donate to Mr Hardy’s fundraiser for Help for Heroes at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/darren-hardy7

PA