Gurkhas Complete Gruelling Charity Challenge To Raise Mental Health Awareness

The soldiers have exceeded their fundraising target and are hoping to get people speaking more openly about mental health.

Gurkhas from the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick have raised more than £1,400 for a mental health charity by cycling, rowing and running 2,078km.

Combat Stress is a charity that helps former servicemen and women with mental health problems, like PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Those taking part also hoped to raise awareness around mental health in the Gurkha community and get more soldiers talking openly.

Major Rajeshkumar Gurung, Officer Commanding of Gurkha Company Catterick, urged people to "speak out and get some help". 

He said: "We have a strong motto, 'It is better to die than to be a coward', so talking openly about the mental health issue could be seen as cowardly."

Major Gurung said the message he wants to get across is: "Hey, we are soldiers, we are meant to be tough and we are tough – but what we've got to remember, we're also human and we have feelings."

Major Rajeshkumar Gurung
Major Rajeshkumar Gurung, Gurkha Company Catterick, spoke about the importance of mental health awareness.

Sergeant Sunil Gurung, 1 Platoon Sergeant of Gurkha Company, added: "Particularly Gurkhas, we try and hide our mental issues but, I think, by organising this and making them aware, maybe in future, people will have that strength to come out and speak about mental illness or about mental struggle."

The target distance for the charity challenge was linked to the Nepalese new year – the year 2078, which started on 14 April.

Sergeant Sunil Gurung said: "I wanted to mark that year in a unique way.

"In Nepal, we celebrate it in our own way, [we] have time with families, have good food and chill out."

In between their infantry training, members of the platoons took turns in the challenge as a team, swapping between the rowing, biking and running machines.