South Shields veteran going the extra mile to give back to those who 'saved his life'

A veteran from South Shields is going the extra mile to support those who he says 'saved his life'.

Andrew Marshall, 49, has set off on a tour along the coastline of Britain.

Titled 'The Big Drive', Andrew will cover more than 5,500 miles in a converted van over the next 4-5 weeks.

On Monday morning he set off from South Shields seafront, with family, friends and well wishers coming along to send him on his way.

Andrew has struggled with his mental health for a number of years, dealing with crippling anxiety which left him feeling incredibly isolated.

It when 2018 when Andrew said he hit his lowest point, and considered taking his own life.

Andrew added: "Even though I was severely ill with mental health issues, I had still never spoken to anyone about how poorly I was, how I felt or how much I was struggling and how low I actually felt. I hadn't sought any kind of help because that's just not what men did."

'The Big Drive' is all in aid of two local charities, which support our armed forces.

NAAFI Break in South Shields is a local community group which provides support to South Tyneside's Veteran community.

The group rely solely on donations and have felt the financial pressures of the pandemic.

Since being supported by NAAFI Break, Andrew has become a volunteer Welfare Officer, meaning he now offers advice an support to other veterans in a similar crisis situation.

Andrew is also raising funds for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Tyne and Wear. He says their volunteers supported him through the toughest time in his life.

Andrew has hit his fundraising target of £2,500 before even setting off on his journey.