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A former soldier who is walking 7,700 miles around Britain’s coastline to raise awareness for post traumatic stress disorder in military veterans stepped into Kintyre this week.
Sam Doyle, 30, from Rossendale in Lancashire, a former gunner with the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and a French Foreign Legion veteran, set off from Blackpool on May 28.
Along the way, he picked up companion Jess, a two-year-old lurcher, whippet, border collie cross, from a man in Irvine who was going to re-home her.
Sam, who served in Afghanistan in 2008, admits that the journey started off as self-therapy, after being diagnosed with PTSD in 2014.
‘I was medically discharged from the Legion in 2010, and when I came home I knew I felt different.
‘I bounced around in jobs, I became an alcoholic and a drug addict. I lost everything and I became suicidal. I decided it was better to walk the coastline of Britain, catching my own food, than begging in the street.’
He set off on foot, determined not to accept any help in the form of transport, and only basic shelter, as in sheds or garages, usually bedding down in the tent he carries on his back.
When support grew on his Facebook page, Walk for PTSD, Sam realised there was potential to raise awareness and funds for the illness.
His JustGiving page, in aid of charity PTSD Resolution, has already raised more than £5,500.
He says that walking and helping others is liberating, and has put his mobile number on his Facebook page in case anyone needs ‘support or just a shoulder to cry on’.
Sam usually sticks to the coast, but after hearing that Kintyre’s roads can be dangerous for walkers, he decided to walk the Kintyre Way route, where he admits he saw his ‘best views of west Scotland so far’.
Having been a part of the fire support team in the Royal Horse Artillery, Sam has received huge support from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in Kintyre, being put up in its stations in Carradale and Campbeltown.
‘Ronnie Souden in Campbeltown, Robert Strang in Carradale and everyone at the fire stations have been great,’ said Sam, ‘Some of them went home, cooked me dinner and brought it back down to the station.
‘Thanks to people’s kindness along the way, I’ve been able to hang up my fishing rod.’
Sam spoke to the Courier on a rare day off on Monday. He headed to Southend on Tuesday and expects to be around Tarbert today (Friday).
He said: ‘At the start, it was purely for my own mental health. I set off with the intention of avoiding society, living off the land and staying away from towns and villages, I’d lost my faith in humanity.
‘But in the last six months, it has definitely been restored by people’s kindness.’
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/sam-doyle1, or follow Sam’s journey on Facebook.