Ex-soldiers embark on mountain challenge

Martin Hewitt and Terry Byrne
Martin Hewitt and Terry Byrne Image credit:

A few statistics about Mount Pumori. The mountain’s prominence is 1,278 metres, its peak rises to 7,100m and it dominates the skyline behind Kala Pataar – in other words, it’s pretty huge!

But the Himalayan climb was just a teaser for what is about to come for Martin Hewitt and Terry Byrne as the two explorers are embarking on a Grand Slam later this year which will see them trying to conquer the highest peaks in each of the seven continents.

What makes the challenge even more remarkable is the two former soldiers both have a disability after their time in Afghanistan in 2008.

Mark can no longer use his right arm, Terry lost his right leg below the knee and a little finger, but their disability hasn’t held them back – in fact it has made them even more determined and motivated the pair to stage outdoor activities for disabled people looking to go that extra mile by setting up Adaptive Grand Slam (AGS).

Terry won’t be able to climb Everest due to a fractured stump, so if Martin completes the Explorers Grand Slam he will be the first person to do so with a disability.

Martin spoke i News from Everest Base Camp. He told the publication “The concept is to use these challenges as a way for people who have life-changing injuries or who have disabilities to engage in a genuine challenge which will push them and give them a focus in a supportive environment.”

The 38 year old from Wilmslow, Cheshire added: “The AGS model works. People are carefully assessed and selected and have experts around them who can provide support to get them to the right level, both physically and psychologically. It gets them in a place where they regain independence and self-confidence.

“I love it when people come on our selection weekends who have been through the mill. We can take them on a journey and develop them and stretch their abilities.

“People want to get back and add value to society in one way or another, and the aim eventually is to help them back into work – because that gives them a sustainable future.”

Terry explained how the challenges helped fill that void he still misses from the front line. The 34 year old contracts manager from Colchester said: “It has replaced what I missed from the army; the team dynamic and the effort you have to make in harsh environments,” he says. “I am lucky on Civvy Street. I have a decent job which is intense, but I struggle with the nine to five life sometimes because it is so different from the army.”

But Terry was gutted when his injury forced him to pull out the summit – “it felt like crap.”

For more information visit the Adaptive Grand Slam website.