Veterans in Portsmouth celebrate after spending five days locked in portable toilets for charity

FOUR veterans whose lives were saved by a forces charity have raised thousands of pounds after completing a ‘potty’ five-day stint in portable toilet cabins.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 4:55 am
Pictured is: Ian Baillie, Mike Hewitt, Gary Sprakes and Chris Nichols. Picture: Keith Woodland (190921-26)

Dedicated Ian Baillie, Mike Hewlett, Gary Sprakes, and Chris Nicholls confined themselves to the cramped conveniences on Southsea Common for 120 hours.

But yesterday afternoon, just after 4pm, the team of forces heroes were finally able to step out of toilets, between Portsmouth Naval Memorial and the Esplanade Car Park, to massive applause from supporters.

Mr Nicholls, 58, a former army Corporal from Portsmouth, said the challenge was horrific.

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Pictured is: The end of the their stay in the portals Picture: Keith Woodland (190921-54)

Speaking to The News moments after hurling a toilet roll into the crowd in celebration, he said: ‘It was exhausting, physically. Everyone said to me it would be mentally demanding but it’s not. It was physically demanding.

‘I would rather walk 150 miles in a week than sit in those bogs for another five days.’

Mr Baillie, 55, from Liverpool a former private in the Royal Corps of Signals and Royal Anglian regiments, agreed the challenge was tougher than expected.

‘It was really, really hard,’ he said. ‘During the day it was all right. People from Portsmouth came over to speak to us and have a laugh. But at night it was tough.

Pictured is: Ian Baillie is hugged by Mike Hewitt, Picture: Keith Woodland (190921-95)

‘There was a lack of room, it was cold and you just couldn’t get comfortable. Honestly, I think I must have had eight hours sleep since Tuesday.’

Mr Baillie added his life had been saved by Forgotten Veterans UK and said he wanted to do something to give back to the charity.

‘I was diagnosed with PTSD and seven years ago I tried to commit suicide,’ he said. ‘A lot of times I have been in a bad place – I was in a really bad place three and half years ago and I rang the charity. They brought me down and gave me some support and supported me ever since. They saved my life.’

It was a similar tale for Mr Sprakes, a former submariner from Waterlooville, who said: ‘The charity saved my life. I tried to commit suicide four times – my dog and this charity are the reasons I am here today.’

Pictured is: Mike Hewitt, Gary Sprakes, Chris Nichols.Ian Baillie. Picture: Keith Woodland (190921-101)

The exact amount of cash raised from the event is still being counted. However, the charity expects to have raised ‘several thousands pounds’.

Gary Weaving, founder of the organisation based inside Fort Cumberland, Eastney, was thrilled at the support from Portsmouth and with his team of fundraisers.

‘I felt like a proud parent,’ the retired Royal Engineer said. ‘At one point I was holding back the tears but I didn’t want to let myself go.

‘I couldn’t have asked for more. What the guys have achieved is unbelievable.’

Pictured is: Motorcyclists visited the veterans after seeing advertised on the web. Picture: Keith Woodland (190921-7)

He added: ‘The people of Portsmouth have also been so generous. I can’t thank them enough.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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