Image for Walking with the Wounded News - Balmoral Challenge 2017 RESULTS / (Balmoral Challenge 2017
 - Images from the Balmoral Challenge held in 2017 by Walking with the Wounded - Veterans mental health charity

Balmoral Challenge 2017 RESULTS

Ex servicemen and women from our programmes in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Catterick joined more than a hundred fundraisers for a unique new team event at Balmoral for Armed Forces Day.

Her Majesty The Queen generously gave the charity permission to host our first ‘Balmoral Challenge’ on her Highland estate in the Cairngorm National Park.

The event saw 35 teams of four, including numerous military units, battle it out around one of three courses over the estate for the challenge which we hope will become an annual fixture.

The event included a ‘Triple Crown’ route of 20 miles over three Munros, a ‘Prince’s Stone’ course calling on teams to think strategically and pick up as many points as they can within a time limit, and a shorter ‘Cairn Chaser’ route through the forests above the castle.

Teams heard first-hand from beneficiaries from across Scotland who have suffered physical, mental and social injuries, such as homelessness, and had the opportunity to walk alongside beneficiary teams on the hill.

The inaugural Triple Crown bragging rights were won by the British Army through a team from 2 Close Support Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (pictured above) based at Leuchars in Fife, despite getting lost early on.

3 Rifles from Edinburgh, mustered by Gordon Meikle, were third behind a team from the event sponsors, the investment fund manager Artemis, led by fund manager Nick Shenton. WWTW’s charity partners the RFEA won the Prince’s Stone course while the Mann family from Dunfermline won the Cairn Chaser.

Lance Corporal Lewis Russo, from Dundee, organised the 2CS Bn REME team, which is on course to raise more than £1,000: “It was a great day, we really enjoyed. It was a much bigger event than I was expecting, had all the facilities, the people were super friendly and helpful, the place is stunning and actually getting to speak to the veterans made it all worthwhile and really brought home why we were raising the money.

“We really enjoyed seeing the other units involved, having some good competition and a laugh with them before, during and after.

“For us it was a no brainer to get involved and to raise money at the same time so hopefully more units will come and challenge next year. We have to be back to defend the title, we’ve got a record to maintain!”.

Not everything went to plan though for Lance Corporal Russo and his teammates, Craftsman Michael Thorne, from the Isle of Wight, Lance Corporal Francis Honey, from Cornwall. Their fourth team member had to pull out in the week before the event so the trio were matched up with a Canadian fundraiser, Simon Cairns from Vancouver, who had flown over to support the event and was parachuted into the team. Then they took a wrong turn early on in the forests on the Royal estate;

“We got lost for half an hour after the first checkpoint and went from first to about 20th,” said Lance Corporal Russo. “When we got back on track we saw all the other teams ahead of us on the mountain like ants on a hill and never thought we were going to catch them. So we know we can go quicker next year, but it’s still a challenge with a different route so we can get lost again!”

All the teams deserved their medals for braving a wind chill of minus 10 on the summits which was balanced out by phenomenal views across the Cairngorms.

Each team was challenged to raise £1,000 with a strive target of £2,000. Congratulations to Quads of Fury from Axis Insurance for leading the way. Fundraising is still coming in from the event which will support WWTW’s programmes supporting veterans with mental, physical or social injuries.

THANK YOU to Artemis Invesment Fund Managers for backing the event and to the Balmoral Estate for allowing us to stage it.