A FORMER soldier has told how his world was turned upside down when his wife suffered kidney failure and fell into coma.

After 27 years’ service in the Royal Artillery, sergeant major Andy Lockhart retired to spend more time with his childhood sweetheart Linda, 53, before she suffered a horrific seizure and stroke that left her with severe brain damage.

Since 2022, Andy has been caring for his wife, who has been left with cognitive, behavioural and physical disabilities which means she will be dependent on him for the rest of her life.

Andy, 52, from Larkhall, explained: “It was like someone ripping my soul away. I didn’t know where to turn, who to talk to or what to do apart from put my 27 years of military service back into play and try my hardest for my wife, daughter and son and hopefully to come out of this with some sort of meaning in life.”

Glasgow Times: Linda and Andy LockhartLinda and Andy Lockhart (Image: Supplied)

A devoted husband with a resolute devotion to his family, Andy ignored the advice of doctors and nurses and made his life’s work to care for Linda’s needs in between his shifts as a mobile crane instructor.

He said: “I’d get up at 5.30am and head to work as I needed to earn to continue to pay the bills. I would finish at 4pm and head straight to the hospital where I would sit and work with Linda until 9pm, before returning home ready to start the whole thing again the next day.

“Through time Linda did ‘come back’ to me, but with permanent and irreversible brain damage. However, we’ve not allowed this to get us down and we continue to fight daily for a better way of life.”

Through the couple’s determination and perseverance, Linda’s health slowly began to improve and she was finally allowed home after 10 months in hospital. However, the strain of being a carer soon placed a financial burden on the couple.

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Andy, who was a Divisional WO1 Regimental Sergeant Major, says: “We always lived within our means, never getting ourselves into financial debt which we couldn’t control, but there was and is only so much I could do through my MOD pension and current wage. They didn’t go far in this current climate and cost of living crisis.”

He soon realised he could not battle on alone and approached the Lanarkshire branch of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity for support.

He explained: “I never thought that I’d be asking for help in a time of need myself, but with Linda falling ill, I swallowed my pride and asked for assistance from SSAFA. The help they have given us has been outstanding.”

SSAFA Lanarkshire approached and secured funding from the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund for a bespoke handrail to be fitted to the staircase in the couple’s home. They also sourced a fabricator to design the specialist rail and to carry out the work installing it.

Andy added “SSAFA’s efforts and the contribution from the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund has been absolutely brilliant and I will be forever in their debt.”

To show his gratitude, Andy is taking on the 2024 Glasgow Kiltwalk Mighty Stride on Sunday, for his local SSAFA branch.

Although he has already raised more than double his target of £500, he knows that extra cash will mean more help becoming available to those in the Armed Forces community – serving or retired, regulars or reserves.

To support Andy, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/andrewlockhart.

Kiltwalks take place in Aberdeen, Dundee, and Edinburgh. For more information on these and to sign up to support go to ssafa.org.uk/support-us/kiltwalk-2024