Ex-soldier running the distance of nearly 200 marathons to support comrades with PTSD

ITV News Correspondent Jane Hesketh has been speaking with Pride of Britain nominee Paul Minter.

An ex-soldier who suffered with PTSD is running the equivalent distance of nearly 200 marathons to support other Armed Forces veterans with the same condition.

Paul Minter, from Leamington Spa, spent 18 years in the army and did five tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

During that time he was blown up twice while on active service.

Paul left the Armed Forces in 2020 suffering from PTSD. 

He had lost comrades in combat, but since leaving the Army he has lost a total of eleven to suicide. 

Paul is now on a mission to help others and has set up a new military charity called Head Up. 

The charity aims to build a £3 million retreat for ex-service personnel suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues. 

Whilst Paul feels grateful that he received the help he needed for his own mental health problems, he says not every former soldier accesses the help they may need. 

Speaking to ITV News Central, Paul said: “During this run I have lost three friends to suicide throughout, so as sad as that is, that's enough to make me know that I am on the right path to achieving what we are trying to achieve. 

“It is unfortunately part and parcel of being a soldier, but I think one of the biggest holes really is that you are taken to a point where you are on super high alertness all the time.

“You are in danger all the time, but what is not really taught is how you come down from that.” 

Paul began his 5,000-mile run, equivalent to 191 marathons back-to-back, on March 1. 

Running along every coastline of the British Isles, he expects to complete the challenge by October 4. 

Speaking about the challenge, he said: “The hardest part is the different sort of adversities that you come through on a day-to-day basis.

“The wind and the rain, the big hills, up and down all day, snow blizzards, heat waves.

“However, you can overcome all of this stuff because each day you know that your body is going to recover and once you get through it, it's done.‘’

Paul has raised almost £400,000 for his charity so far. 

He has been nominated for a regional fundraiser award by fellow soldier Matthew Kooney, who served with him in the household cavalry. 

Matthew described Paul as “an inspiration”.

He said: “Raising the amount of money he has raised and the people that he is doing it for, it's helping their families. 

“It benefits a lot more people than just the person that is receiving the help for that week.”

Paul spreads the word about plans for the retreat and the Head Up charity wherever he goes and has received support along the way.

He said: “I’ve had thousands and thousands of messages of support which has been really nice. 

“But as much as it's nice to get it from famous people, it's also really nice to get it from the general public and everyone that has been involved.” 

He aims to raise the £3 million by the end of 2023 to make the life-changing and potentially life-saving retreat for ex-service personnel possible.