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Walking Home for Christmas will help ex-military

Comedian Al Murray and WWII Historian James Holland to help ex-military facing mental health battles

Comedian Al Murray and WW2 Historian James Holland issued a plea to battle the Covid mental health crisis with best of British military banter, when they launched Walking Home For Christmas 2020.

The pair have challenged the UK public to supply their best military jokes and banter to help support Walking With The Wounded’s Walking Home For Christmas campaign – to aid ex-military facing mental health battles.

The major fundraising drive is the charity’s only event this year. It challenges the general public to step out of their comfort zone and to walk somewhere important to them in support of Britain’s ex-military. Taking place from Thursday, December 10 until Sunday December 20, the challenge is the perfect way to beat lockdown blues while obeying local Covid-19 restrictions.

The pair, who run the We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast (which discusses all things World War II), have both come on-board this year to support those who served and to lend a hand in overcoming the new Covid-19 battlefield that is adding extra pressure mentally and physically throughout the UK.   

They will be taking on their own epic walk next month that will involve one of the most therapeutic remedies for mental health – banter! Walking and talking is good for the soul, but add a bit of military banter into the mix and you are laughing!

Over the past six years, thousands of people have done their own memorable, solo and team walks – to raise vital funds for those who have served. They have walked home, to a war memorial, to their old barracks and even carried a Christmas tree to a friend. The charity’s Grenadier Walk of Oman expedition team, comprised of five ex-military and one currently serving, will also be walking in December in their own locations (after the expedition was postponed until early 2021), to bring attention to the struggles that military veterans face in their day-to-day lives, and how a simple laugh and a joke can brighten the spirits of those who need it most.

This year, we’ve been locked down, but we can get up again. Walking Home For Christmas encourages us all to get out, embrace the spirit of the season and serve those who served us.

In light of the dark Covid-19 environment, this year’s campaign theme has been given a comedy twist and Al and James are calling out to the public for the best banter the military and ex-military have to offer to keep them entertained on their walk. They would love you to get involved and share any jokes that will help the mental toils of 2020. You can share your jokes in the comment section of the video below.

They have called on Brits across the country to put their best foot forward to raise much-needed cash to help veterans and their families – simply by going for a walk.

Al Murray said: “I would love for the British public to join me and walk. Yes, walk, it’s as simple as that. Joining Walking Home for Christmas and doing a sponsored walk will help in raising money for ex-military and their families dealing with mental health issues that have been even more challenging, with the strange Covid-19 times we find ourselves in. Myself and WW2 historian James Holland would love to hear your military jokes, stories and banter that we can read out on our walk together on our We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast. The challenge is yours, between Thurs 10 and Sun 20 Dec for Walking With The Wounded. Sign up below. Good luck and get walking.”

James Holland added: “It’s an honour to be involved with Walking Home For Christmas this year and it’s extremely important to shine a spotlight on the importance of our mental health as well as our military veterans. I’m a big fan of walking the ground and I’m hoping that the military jokes and banter you provide will put a smile on my face, as well as Al’s! With another lockdown being implemented, getting out and walking is a great way to unwind and clear your head. So, do it for a good cause and support Walking Home For Christmas.”

The campaign invites anyone to register for free, receive a branded Santa hat and facemask and do a sponsored walk home, somewhere important to them anytime between December 10-20.

The event is aiming to support 200 ex-servicemen and women who are socially isolated, struggling with their mental health, homeless or caught in police custody as a result of poor mental health – and get them back into employment and independence.

Carolyn, WWTW’s Clinical Lead says: “There has been lots of research that backs up the message that exercise is good for us and studies have shown that exercise and physical activity can in fact treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication – it’s good for our mental health and wellbeing! 

“Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood as well as improving self-esteem.Taking part in group activities can improve this even further bringing individuals together to achieve a common goal.  Being part a group of your peers can instill a sense of comradery which many ex-servicemen and women miss and will attest to the fact that the associated banter can give a little respite from the day to day difficulties that can be experienced by many.  Having a laugh, socializing with others and taking part in some physical activity is a recipe for improving our wellbeing and rebalances the nervous system – allowing us to put the brakes on any stressful situations we may be going through.”

Signing up for Walking Home for Christmas is easy and free – just log on here and register for your fundraising pack.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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