Mountaineering charity Adventure Quest (UK) will launch a new course for Veterans with psychological injuries in the Highlands this June…

Funded by Help for Heroes, the course will be the first of its kind for Scotland which, combined with personal hill walking, can result in an outdoor national qualification from the Mountain Training Board.

Based from Beauly in Inverness-shire, wounded, sick and injured Veterans will have the opportunity to learn mountain skills such as map reading, rope work, reading synoptic charts, and geology.

Adventure Quest UK’s Managing Director, Paul Lefever, who has previously delivered the course in the Yorkshire Dales said the course is unique in that it has been specifically devised for people experiencing mental ill health and will be delivered by those who understand the difficulties that many face when leaving the Armed Forces.

“Developing a respectful relationship with the natural world is recognised as being beneficial to a person’s mental and physical well-being. We pay specific attention to providing practical application of leadership skills and focus on building self-awareness, self-development and personal motivation,” he explained.

“What is unique about the course though is that the syllabus is very relaxed and the work can be completed at the pace of the individual. Sometimes, all they want to do is walk and talk: on another day, they may want to learn or refresh specific mountain skills.”

The mountaineering –based activities combine both formal and informal learning. Not all participants may want to gain qualifications: some just want to gain the confidence to safely go hiking and enjoy the therapeutic peace and quiet of the countryside. All of them though benefit from being with like-minded people with similar backgrounds and who can empathise with their situation.

For those who do aim to gain meaningful long-term employment using the skills acquired, they will be given the opportunity to mentor new course participants as well as to meet specialist recruitment organisations that can discuss with individuals their future aspirations and provide them with guidance and support in finding a job.

Adventure Quest (UK) began receiving grant funding from Help for Heroes in May 2015. Paul says: “The financial backing, support and guidance from Help for Heroes means we can keep the groups small which is very beneficial for those taking part, especially those with complex needs: it means we really can tailor things for the individual. Help for Heroes have supported Adventure Quest (UK) from conception right and continue to enable us to extend our reach – by supporting this opportunity for Scottish Veterans.”

Bryn Parry, CEO and Co-Founder of Help for Heroes says: “Help for Heroes are proud to be supporting the work of Adventure Quest UK who are providing inspiration, social integration and the potential for a second fulfilling career in a safe, skilled and supportive environment. It’s fantastic to see Paul taking the course to the Highlands, providing further opportunities for our wounded, injured and sick Scottish Veterans.”

There are still places available for the Introduction to Mountain Skills course which will run from Cannich, Beauly in Inverness-shire from 6th-11th June. Those interested are urged to contact[email protected]