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Wounded veteran joins Combat Stress for annual wine challenge

By Leatherhead Advertiser  |  Posted: November 27, 2012

By Edward Gent edward.gent@essnmedia.co.uk

WINE RUSH:  Graham Raphael (far right) at Combat Stress before setting off   REFL20121112A-131_C Photo by Ian Stratton

Graham Raphael (far right) at Combat Stress before setting off REFL20121112A-131_C Photo by Ian Stratton

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A WOUNDED veteran played his part when he joined an annual wine challenge in support of a mental health charity.

Former soldier Mark Lanchberry joined Graham Raphael, founder of disability motoring charity Motorsport Endeavour, for a 600-mile journey to France to pick up this year's Beaujolais Nouveau and raise awareness for Leatherhead charity Combat Stress.

The pair set off from the charity's base in Oaklawn Road, where Mr Raphael holds fortnightly motorsport experience days for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mr Lanchberry, 50, who suffered spinal injuries while on active service with the Army in 2008, said: "I drove the whole way and that was my challenge because it is quite a long way.

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"Since my injury I've not done any driving at all and so it was nice to have him (Mr Raphael) there in case anything went wrong.

"It was nice to be able to challenge myself. It was much harder than I thought it would be and at times I wanted to give in really, but I wasn't going to and I kept going."

Mr Lanchberry and Mr Raphael set off on November 13 and returned last Thursday, and a celebratory breakfast was held at the Carlton Club in London on Friday.

Mr Raphael said: "We had another chap who had actually been through Combat Stress himself, because he had been suffering from PTSD, and he explained what it is all about.

"That stopped the breakfast I can tell you, because a lot of people have no idea what it is all about.

"The main thing with this drive was to raise the profile of Combat Stress."

Veterans suffering from PTSD undergo intensive six-week in-patient courses at the charity's Tyrwhitt House centre.

Every fortnight since last September, Mr Raphael has taken patients out in sports cars at weekends to give them some respite.

He said: "The six-week programme is pretty intensive and can actually upset the blokes very much. They are having to face things they had hidden away for years so it can be an extremely traumatic time for them.

"Therefore at the end of the week, to have something completely different that they like is great and they love it. Most of them really do benefit."

Visit www.combatstress.org.uk or call 01372 587000 for information on the charity.

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