AN ARMY veteran will be walking 67 miles from Rodney Parade to Parc y Scarlets on Saturday, March 15 to help raise money and awareness for struggling ex servicemen.
Paul Mathias, 43, from Swansea, served in the Royal Artillery for 18 years before leaving in 2005.
After departing the army, he had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with acute post-traumatic stress disorder, which led to him losing his job, partner and house.
Mr Mathias hit rock bottom and became suicidal before finally managing to get himself help and bring his illness under control.
He feels that assistance is not always forthcoming for veterans that need it, and believes that a lot of people – like he was – are too ashamed to ask for help.
“When you’ve been in the forces there is a massive pride barrier,” said Mr Mathias. “I want to help raise awareness that it’s ok to ask for support and hopefully I can provide that.
“I started a welfare support scheme last March to help people leaving the forces and their families as I don’t want them going through the same things I did.
“Veterans tend to find it easier to talk to people that have experienced what they have so hopefully that’s where I come in.”
Mr Mathias will be walking from Rodney Parade to the Parc y Scarlets via the Cardiff Arms Park and Liberty Stadium.
He will be walking the whole distance in one go with his partner Sarah Dennis, 32, and two friends, Gerald McCarthy and Robert Jones – with medical teams following closely behind.
He chose to start the walk at Rodney Parade as he sees it as a landmark for Welsh Rugby that will help raise publicity for his fundraising idea.
“When you think of Wales you think of rugby and you’re automatically drawn to Rodney Parade,” he added. “It’s a great venue and central so it’s an ideal place to start.
“I’m hopeful that people will come along and walk part of the distance with us, starting with people from Newport, and if they wish to donate then that is great.”
The walk will begin at 9am on Saturday, March 15, at the main gate at Rodney Parade.