Walking the West Highland Way is hard enough. The 154km stretch from Milngavie to Fort William is a feat in its own right.

But that wasn’t enough for 32-year-old ex-soldier Brian Kelly.

He took it upon himself to do the entire trek carrying a full battle weight of 140lbs on his back – and all in aid of Combat Stress.

A PTSD sufferer himself, Brian, from East Kilbride, said now is a more important time than ever to raise much-needed funds for one of the UK’s leading mental health charities for soldiers.

Glasgow Times: Brian on his 154km trekBrian on his 154km trek

He said: “14 veterans committed suicide in the first 2 weeks of the pandemic. They are sending us out there to do that job but you come back and you're forgotten outside.

“There is definitely not enough support for soldiers. The Government should have something for the soldiers who come back.”

READ MORE: Meet the East Renfrewshire woman who set up a street library after facilities were closed due to lockdown

Brian, now a personal trainer, said his own experiences with Combat Stress made him want to do this.

“I was diagnosed with PTSD when I came home from Afghanistan. My best friend was murdered and shortly after that another committed suicide; he had PTSD. Both soldiers,” he said.

“At that time, I found solace in drink. PTSD got the better of me. I was a really angry person. But then I contacted combat stress and sought help.

“They've been with me every step of the way even through the pandemic. They’ve given me a better quality of life and shown me there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Even for an Ex-soldier turned personal trainer, 154km with the weight of another person on your back is a gruelling feat for anyone.

But other walkers helped him through it – and some even donated too.

He said: “It was extremely demanding physically. The first day I was fresh and got 35 miles up the route but on the second day, the weight started taking its toll it felt like 100 tonnes. And then the rain came in and I was soaked.

“There was a lot of support on the way. Other walkers helped and some even gave donations. Everyone I met along the way kept me going.”

While Brian wasn’t expecting to raise a lot – especially during a pandemic when many are cash-strapped – he has been “humbled” by the support.

A big problem for veterans, Brian said, was battling the stigma around mental health.

READ MORE: Glasgow man running 100 miles to raise money for veterans

“We need to get rid of the stigma around mental health. You're taught in the army not to show weakness,” he said but added, “things are getting a wee bit better.”

£10 raised can go towards providing materials for art therapy sessions, £21 pays for one hour of Combat Stress’ 24-hour helpline while £40 pays towards one hour with a community mental health nurse.

Robert Marsh, Director of Fundraising at Combat Stress, said: “We’re beyond grateful to Brian for his endurance feat in support of Combat Stress, and have been closely following every update of his progress.

“These are challenging times, and it is imperative that we support those former servicemen and women whose severe mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can be exacerbated by isolation and social distancing as a result of the pandemic.

“We are working diligently to be there for these veterans, providing treatment and support via phone and video call, but we are dependent upon the generosity of the public and the selflessness of fundraisers like Brian, whose determination to help support those whose position he was once in, is truly inspirational.”

Brian’s fundraiser can be found at https://gf.me/u/ya7ij7