Soldier to aid man’s climb

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A Galloway soldier is taking on the challenge of a lifetime by guiding a deafblind man on a gruelling 24 hour climb to the summit of the tallest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in 24 hours.

Captain John Vance of Garlieston will support Stephen Joyce from Cumbernauld to the summit of Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in England and Ben Nevis in Scotland with four other Army officers to raise funds for Deafblind Scotland.

John selected the team of conditioned officers to carry out the “Deafblind3peaks” challenge after meeting Stephen through a mutual friend.

Born profoundly deaf, Stephen has been losing his sight as a result of a genetic condition called Usher Syndrome.

While John will run side by side with Stephen, the officers, from different regiments across the UK, will run in front and behind the pair.

John, 30, who is now based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, said: “The team and I are really excited about supporting Stephen on the Deafblind3peaks Challenge.

“When I met Stephen I was blown away by his ambition and motivation to not let his impairments get in the way of taking on such a hard task.

“The actual run itself is pretty daunting but myself and the team are more wary of the fact we must constantly concentrate on Stephen’s wellbeing and ensure the path ahead doesn’t pose any problems for him.”

John has recently completed a Half Ironman Challenge in Denmark and trekked through the Himalayan foothills of Nepal in May.

His team of soldiers include marathon, fell and ultra-marathon runners.

Through British Sign Language, Stephen said this week: “I am very thankful to John and his team of officers for supporting me on this adventure.

“I have run marathons in the past and keep fit but for a challenge of this magnitude I need assistance given my sight loss – conditions will be difficult and there is no telling what the weather or paths will be like near the summits.”