A FORMER soldier inspired by his colleagues killed or injured in war in Iraq and Afghanistan has helped raise much-need funds for the Poppyscotland charity.
Norrie MacKinnon, 55, who lives in Edinburgh, took part in the charity’s Sportive 110km cycle, and has helped boost the funds to a massive £45,700.
As a Major in the Royal Regiment of Scotland he decided whether or not to send men and women to war and also looked into the repatriation of those who had died during their time in the army. He witnessed many who came back with various complex issues.
Norrie said: “As part of my role in the army, I evaluated soldiers and decided if they had the skills to be sent to war.
“At one point, I was in charge of around 120 soldiers. Seeing them return from war, you witness some people who come back from the battlefield with their own struggles.
“There are thousands of people out there who are fine but you do get people who slip through the net and desperately need help.”
As well as this, Norrie has also had a part to play in the repatriation process of bodies, during the Iraq and Afghanistan War.
This could be, at times, emotionally tough.
Captain Walter Barrie, who was a friend of Norrie’s, was killed at his base in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province on 11 November, 2013, by a rogue member of the Afghan army.
Norrie knew him well, so his death was particularly tough to handle. He also understands how unsettling it can be to adjust to normal, civilian life. He said: “I got quite low when I left the army. You’re used to a lot of responsibility and all of a sudden you’re not one of the key players anymore.
“You’re on the periphery of army life and everything that felt normal to you.”
“But now, 18 months later, I’m coming to terms with this and I’m still connected to the army. I look after welfare services at the MOD and see people in need coming in week in week out.
“I see families from the armed forces who have fallen on hard times. That’s why I took part in the Poppyscotland Sportive. I know that people are in urgent need of help and I see the excellent work the charity does.
“The team at Poppyscotland do all that they can to offer life-changing support to the Armed Forces community in Scotland – and that’s what kept me pedalling until the end.”
The Poppyscotland Sportive, which is sponsored by Fred Olsen Renewables, saw more than double the numbers of cyclists taking part, with 600 riders of all ages and abilities donning their cycling gear to take on routes varying in length from 77km to 162km.
Marianne Craig, Poppyscotland’s events fundraiser, said: “We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who took on the Poppyscotland Sportive.
“The Sportive is a definite challenge and all of the participants should be very proud of themselves. This year, we doubled the numbers of participants taking part in the event. We are overwhelmed by the positive and continued support from cycling fans – both our elite amatuers and those who are new to sportives.
“And, thanks to our event sponsors Fred Olsen Renewables, our participants can be sure that their pedal power is all for a good cause, with 100% of their entry fee and every penny raised going towards our Armed Forces community in Scotland.”
Poppyscotland provides life-changing support to the Armed Forces community.