A VETERAN who battled back against crippling post traumatic stress disorder will ride 4,000 miles through the desolate cold of the Arctic Circle with a friend.

Les Allen, 43, served in the British Army for eight years after signing up at the age of 16.

When he left in 2000, there were initially no signs of mental trauma.

But it took the trigger of an injury suffered at work to bring it to the surface.

PTSD cost him the chance of employment and many of his friends.

He said: “My PTSD surfaced years after I had left, I had an accident and after the accident it hit me. One small thing triggered it off.

“I regressed back into just an unpleasant person, I was agoraphobic and violent.

“I lost all my friends and couldn’t bear anyone being around.

“I was horrible and so emotional. I shut myself away and couldn’t be near people.

“My wife had to go through a lot, it nearly lost me my family.

“I was so depressed about everything that was going on I was suicidal

“I was pinning my wife down in my sleep, I was having terrible nightmares.”


He referred himself to NHS service Healthy Minds and with the help and support of the Royal British Legion managed to find employment.

The charity helped him to retrain and return to a career in construction.

He said: “I could do the job I just couldn’t afford to go and get the tickets to go through the training again.

“It was fantastic, before that I was in a bad place, living on food vouchers.

“I was unemployable. No-one was interested, people turned their nose up at me.

“Someone once refused to work with me, saying I can’t work with him he has mental health issues.”

The charity helped him financially, covering bills when he was in financial strife and helping with food when he had no money at all.

Les, desperate to give something back to the charity, is teaming up with colleague and Royal Artillery veteran Adrian Middleton.

Adrian also received help from the Royal British Legion after suffering a heart attack.

Neither wish to shy away from a challenge, so have set the ambitious target of riding their motorcycles 4,000 miles through harsh conditions.

They aim to undertake a round trip from Holland through to the highest point of Sweden, before returning through Arctic Norway.

Along the way, they will revive their military survival skills by shunning any hotel or bed and breakfast.

Les said: “There will be no glamping and no comfort.

“We will be out in the wilderness, camping all the way.

“The trip is completely self-funded and we won’t use any of the money on ourselves.

“We will be using ration packs and setting up fires at the side of the road.” The pair have arduously planned their route as to ensure the highest possibility of success.

They will set off for the ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland on July 2.

Arriving in Holland, they will ride to Keil in Germany, before setting off en route to Gothenburg in northernmost Sweden.

Les, who served with the Black Watch battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, said: “We are expecting poor weather.

“There is such a small window of time to do it in, there is 20ft of snow at the moment at certain parts.

“I know what I have been through is nothing compared to what some people have experienced.

“I have been there when helping to teach injured soldiers to dive. Some had lost limbs.”

The pair have received support from Cannon BMW, based in Witham, with the company agreeing to help prepare Les’s Harley Davidson and promote the ride.

To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/les-allen1.