Always a Little Further: Pilgrim Bandits Ambassador, Colin MacLachlan

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Pilgrim Bandits Ambassador, Colin MacLachlan is a former SAS soldier turned actor, author and public speaker. He has been involved in some of the most high-profile and daring SAS missions over the years, but is perhaps best known by the masses for appearing in Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins and Channel 5’s Secrets of the SAS. 

In this interview, Colin speaks to us about why he is proud to support the work of Pilgrim Bandits and reveals his exciting plans for an upcoming expedition to Austria in a post-pandemic world! 

“I first became involved with Pilgrim Bandits in 2015. I’d met the then CEO, Mike, previously at a number of talks and dinners and we had co-hosted events together and got chatting. I also go way back with the current Pilgrim Bandits CEO, Matt Hellyer, we were on selection together back in 1999 and I know a few of the other guys involved with the charity from bouncing in and out at various events. Our paths have all crossed at various times and I’ve got to see and learn what the charity is all about. You can’t help but want to get involved and offer up your support.”

Why Pilgrim Bandits?

“A lot of people see a veterans’ charity and think ‘that’s good, I’ll throw some money at it’, but when you dig a bit deeper and find out exactly what Pilgrim Bandits really do it’s like a double-edged sword. These veterans may have injuries or be struggling but they are also conquering massive challenges. It is enlightening and a real incentive for people to go and push themselves. There is a lot to be said about the challenges and key messages Pilgrim Bandits hold and say.

“It is also a charity that’s close to my heart. I’m a veteran and consider myself one of the lucky ones, the fact that I have kept hold of my limbs. However, I have got many friends that didn’t and, on one hand they are setback in the things that they can do, but in others they are able to push themselves beyond what a lot of able-bodied people can do through sheer determination. It is good to see and is extremely motivational for people on the outside looking in. 

“On the mental health side too – and there is a real crossover here between Pilgrim Bandits and Who Dares Cares [the charity set up by Colin] – there is real value in having a network of people you can talk to. A brotherhood. Being in a position to give people more good days than bad days, in terms of their mental wellbeing, is incredible.”

Always A Little Further

“So, back to where it all began, the more I learnt about the work that the charity does, I found myself wanting to support them and I hope that I have, in a number of different ways over the years. It began with a charity boxing match in 2016, raising over £4,000 for Pilgrim Bandits and after that I would help with fundraisers and talks. 

“Despite the distance, living in Scotland, I try to keep in touch with Pilgrim Bandits as much as I can. I also help to spread the word with social media, sharing posts and help to raise awareness of events I attend or are taking place. Encouraging others to get involved or find out more about the charity. 

“The most recent event I participated in was a Covid-19 fundraiser. As well as raising funds for the charity, we were raising money to help Pilgrim Bandits purchase and distribute PPE for the NHS and emergency services workers. Pilgrim Bandits supporters came together remotely in the midst of the first lockdown of the pandemic for a mammoth fundraising push, a virtual relay covering over 370 miles over a period of just 24 hours. We took an hour each to walk or run around the garden, hand biking and static cycling – whatever it took to get the distance in.”

Ambassador for Pilgrim Bandits

“I have my own charity called Who Dares Cares and I am a patron of a number of different charities. I am very mindful of not spreading myself too thin as I believe that it is only worth being an ambassador if you can add value. Pilgrim Bandits being based down in the south makes it a bit more difficult when it comes to events as I’m far away in Scotland to be able to attend all events, however there are plenty of other things I can do to help. I am able to create a presence up here in Scotland and can do all of the online events. I am always happy to help on social media and will do what is needed to raise awareness. I am also always happy to jump on whatever, in terms of expeditions. As long as I am not taking away a space from a veteran or amputee, I love to get involved and go along.

“Earlier in the year, before the pandemic, we were in touch with a connection in Austria. We were going to take a couple of amputee veterans across to look at whether it was suitable for a retreat. A skiing retreat in the winter or trekking in the summer. It was going to be a break-away. We were due to go away late march/ early April, however, because of Covid-19, the trip was postponed. But when everything eases up again, I am sure this will happen and be back on. Watch this space!” 

If you would like to learn more about Pilgrim Bandits and how you can get involved in upcoming expeditions or how you too can support the charity, contact admin@pilgrimbandits.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

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