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Former Royal Marines and Falklands veterans complete gruelling 120 mile kayak around Falkland Islands for PTSD awareness

Two former Royal Marines and Falklands veterans, Mick Dawson and Steve Grenham, are on their way back to the UK after completing a gruelling 120 mile kayak around the coastline of the Falkland Islands to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst armed forces personnel and veterans.

This challenge, titled the Cockleshell Endeavour, took the duo eight days to complete, in which time they had to contend with the daunting conditions that the coastline of the Falkland Islands threw at them, including high winds, difficult currents and avoiding the unexploded mines left over from the conflict.

However for one half of the team in particular, Steve Grenham, there’s was more than just the physical challenges to overcome.  Steve is dealing with his own symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which is has been affected by for a number of years, a situation he feels may be relate back to his experiences both in the Falkland war and tours of Northern Ireland.  The Cockleshell Endeavour project was designed to put a spotlight on the hugely relevant subject of PTSD as a whole in the service community.

Over the eight days Mick and Steve were kayaking they stopped off at key locations around the Falkland’s coast to pay tribute to their fellow veterans and those who lost their lives in the conflict as this year marks the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War.  They also used the time to speak to Falklanders who experienced the conflict first hand, and some of the residents of the islands kindly provided accommodation to Mick and Steve and their support crew throughout the challenge.

Before embarking on this challenge both Steve and Mick were novice kayakers so have had to learn how to kayak effectively as well as train in skills that could potentially save their lives during the kayak.  This preparation has involved completing a number of steadily increasing challenges, including competing in The Devizes to Westminster Canoe/Kayak race in April 2015 and The Yukon River Quest in June 2015.

As well as promoting the issue of PTSD Mick and Steve also used the endeavour to raise money for their chosen charity, The Royal Marine’s Charity.  To date they have raised over £3000 for charity and there is still time to donate.  To donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Cockleshell-Endeavour

Steve Grenham, former Royal Marine, Falkland’s veteran and PTSD sufferer, says:
“We embarked upon this challenge as we wanted to do something that would be challenging to both of us. We wanted something that we’d have to concentrate and learn to do.

“I was still suffering from anxiety, couldn’t keep a job down, struggling with a relationship. Sitting around in groups with people I don’t know doesn’t work for me. So here we are, just completed a 120 mile kayak around the Falkland Island, and this has helped me.”

Mick Dawson, former Royal Marine and Falkland’s veteran says:
“What an amazing couple of weeks we have had.  This was an incredibly difficult challenge to take on and faced some very tough conditions, but we have also experienced great hospitality from the people who live on the Falkland Islands and witnessed some amazing things, including the pod of dolphins which swam the final miles of the challenge with us alongside the kayak.  

“I’d like to thank all the Falkland Islanders who have treated us so well over the past couple of weeks, and also the team of guys, both in the UK and in the Falklands, who have supported us throughout the preparations for the endeavour and during the eight days we were kayaking.

“Although this part of the Cockleshell Endeavour is now complete we will now be working with other veterans who are affected by physical injuries or mental illness to help them complete kayaking challenges and will continue to raise money for armed forces charities.”