Sgt Edward Mackenzie is currently planning to kayak over 350 miles across the UK again to raise funds and awareness for the Elysium Memorial Foundation.
Read his story below:
We all know someone who has taken their own life. For us we all know of at least one veteran that has done so. During the lock down of 2020, it got me thinking that during my time in The Highlanders, I had lost so many friends to suicide,in fact more so than to the enemy, including my best friend. It also got me wondering that if I had lost this many, then how many others had lost their friends and family unnecessarily. More so to why there’s no memorial in the UK solely dedicated to military suicides.
I then decided it is time that a memorial be built, solely dedicated to all veterans that have taken their own lives, so that their friends and families have a place for them to be remembered.
I didn’t originally intend to be a charity, as I thought, given how many people have lost someone, the donations would naturally flood in. After looking for patron, corporate sponsors and donations I set up the charity with a fellow Highlander and my father.
I then spent about 6 months planning the initial fundraiser. Though lock down and Covid made it particularly difficult, I came up with kayaking from Liverpool to London. This would be done in 14 days and cover 280 - 350 miles. Using digital platforms and apps I worked out the route and where we could stay along the route, as unlike Scotland there’s no rights to roam in England. We would still camp but needed permission.
I also asked a couple of friends from The Highlanders (4 SCOTS) to help form a support team. We were starting to get lots of important coverage in newspapers,the National radio and social media. We also gained support from some high ranking officers and some MP’s, which led to being mentioned in Parliament a few times.
All was going well and to plan.
On the 17th August 2021 to the sound of pipes from the Pipe-Major of Liverpool-Scottish we set off for London. Each day we averaged around 22 miles,depending on how many locks we had to portage, but we kayaked about 8 hours a day.
Sadly whilst we were on the expedition LCpl Mackenzie (4 SCOTS) took his life in the barracks, adding further poignancy and gravitas to our efforts. On the 30th August we arrived at Putney Bridge, London to the sound of pipes from Pipe-Major Thompson of The Irish Guards and one of his fellow Piper’s.
There was a good gathering of well wishers, the media, sponsors, friends and family.We had raised almost £20,000.
We are currently planning a similar expedition that will take us from Manchester to East London, via Birmingham, approximately the same distance if not further,within the same time frame, in late August/early September.
We look forward to and are grateful to all the well wishers and contributors, as are the families and friends of those victims to whom the memorial is dedicated.
The memorial will be built at The National Memorial Arboretum.
Please support and help us reach the required funds to build the memorial and get the awareness needed.
We are also looking for people to join the support team.