Double amputee is walking home to Norfolk for Christmas

Duncan Slater, left, from Scole, and Ed Parker is preparing to take part in a Walking Home for Chris

Duncan Slater, left, from Scole, and Ed Parker is preparing to take part in a Walking Home for Christmas charity trek from London to north Norfolk. Picture: WALKING WITH THE WOUNDED - Credit: Archant

He's trekked to the South Pole with Prince Harry and taken part in the gruelling 'Marathon of the Sands' in Africa.

Duncan Slater, left, from Scole, and Ed Parker is preparing to take part in a Walking Home for Chris

Duncan Slater, left, from Scole, and Ed Parker is preparing to take part in a Walking Home for Christmas charity trek from London to north Norfolk. Picture: WALKING WITH THE WOUNDED - Credit: Archant

But the challenges double amputee Duncan Slater will face on his next trek will be somewhat different - he won't know where to sleep, or where his next meal will be coming from.

Mr Slater, 37, from Scole, plans to sleep rough and live hand-to-mouth on a four-day hike from the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London to the Walking With the Wounded (WWTW) office in Stody in north Norfolk.

The charity's co-founder, Ed Parker, will join him on the 119-mile trek, which is part of an annual Waling Home For Christmas fundraiser to help get homeless veterans off the streets.

Mr Slater said: 'We're not taking any money and we're going to ask for food and drink along the way. We're going to try to get by on the milk of human kindness.


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'We're only taking a sleeping bag each, and we'll sleep rough. Each night we'll try to find a little wood or a tree line - somewhere out of the elements. That's the best we can hope for.'

Mr Slater said they wanted to highlight the growing number of veterans sleeping rough on the streets.

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He said there were different reasons veterans became homeless, but mental health issues often played a role.

Mr Slater said: 'There is a lot of depression, alcohol and drug dependence.

'But we want to get the message out there that you are allowed to fall into the cracks of life, and we are there to help,'

Mr Slater said he wanted to encourage others to do their own Walking Home For Christmas fundraiser - over any distance - for the cause.

He said: 'Even if it's just getting off the bus a couple of stops early and walking a few miles is worth it, because it goes towards helping get those veterans off the streets.'

Mr Slater said the trek would be a lot different to his previous challenges.

He said: 'I think it's going to be quite hard because we don't have any support and we won't know where the next meal will be coming from.

'In everything we've done before, that's the one thing you look forward to - the evening meal. But this is going to be quite uncertain.

'But then again it's only four days of my life - we're not trying to say we know what it's like to be homeless.'

The number of homeless people in the UK has skyrocketed over the past six years.

Government figures show there was an average of 1,768 people sleeping rough on any given night across the country in 2010, rising to 3,569 by 2015. For the East of England, the 2010 figure was 206, rising to 418 in 2015.

Estimates suggest that as many as 6pc of the current homeless population could be ex-armed forces.

Mr Slater and Mr Parker plan to make the trek from December 9 to December 12. Donations can be made online at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/edduncOrganise your own walk

Clubs, businesses and individuals are being encouraged to sign up for WWTW's Walking Home for Christmas campaign.

Andrew Cook, the charity's director of fundraising, said last year's walks totalled more than 5,000 miles and the campaign raised enough to support more than 250 vulnerable veterans through programmes to re-integrate them back into society and regain their independence.

Mr Cook said: 'Many of our ex-military personnel face a Christmas and New Year without much sparkle.

'We are so grateful to the huge numbers of you who accept our challenge to stride out on their behalf before Christmas, in a determined bid to help us put the twinkle back into their and their families' eyes.'

How to Enter:

-Sign up for £10 plus postage at wwtw.org.uk/Christmas;

-Get sent your Santa hat and pack, plan your walk and tell your friends;

-Walk anywhere, any distance challenging for you, anytime from today until December 26.

This year, walkers also have the option to sign up as a 'captain' and host a walk in their area.

Fit for a challenge

Mr Slater's life was thrown into upheaval one day in July, 2009.

The former Royal Air Force sergeant was serving in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb blew up his vehicle. The only unbroken part of his body was his right arm and a year later, both his legs had to be amputated in order for him to walk pain-free.

Mr Slater has gone on to take part in some epic fundraisers for Walking With the Wounded, including skiing to the South Pole in 2013, becoming the first double-amputee to do so.

This year he undertook the Marathon des Sables - Marathon of the Sands - in Morocco, which involves six marathons in six days across the Sahara desert.

Mr Slater had to pull out of that challenge before finishing the final stage because his prosthetic legs were ripping his stumps to shreds.

But he now has a new set of legs from an Italian firm, and hopes they will hold up better when he attempts the challenge again next year.

Mr Slater also works for the charity, visiting schools and collages across the country to share his inspiring story and raise awareness of veterans' issues.

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