What we do

VetRun180 is a Charity that takes physically and mentally injured veterans on challenging expeditions around the world, to re-invoke the sense of adventure and teamwork.  We provide ‘adventure therapy’ and a simple concept proven by the testimonies from the veterans we have helped.  During and after an expedition the veterans have a more positive mind set and future outlook.

 

Land Rover Experience Skipton

Pre-Deployment

Before deploying on any expedition, we train each team before leaving. All veterans attend a two day training course at Land Rover Experience. The course consists of a Lantra Off-Road driving course and a First Aid at Work Course, both of which give recognised qualifications. The course gives veterans the opportunity to familiarise themselves with our vehicles, get used to working as part of a team again and to get to know the other veterans they will be travelling with. Every team member can  start the expedition with the knowledge and confidence for the expedition.

Our Next Expedition

We are in the process of organising another Vetrun180 Expedition. In September 2021, in Land Rover Defenders starting from Dunattor Castle on the West Coast of Scotland, a group of Veterans will travel across Scotland to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse. The week long trip will be preceded, as with all our expeditions, with all veterans taking a Lantra 4×4 driving course and a first aid at work course at Land Rover Experience.

Are you a veteran who could benefit from one of our trips? If so please contact us through the website contact page.

 

Matt Abbott Managing Trustee

I am Matt Abbott, one of the founders of VetRun180.  We are a Charity supporting physically and mentally injured military veterans, by taking them on challenging 4×4 off-road driving expeditions around the world, to aid in their recovery.

I am a former Royal Marines Commando. I joined the marines in 2003 at the height of the war of terror.  My first combat tour was to Iraq in 2004 where I spent 7 months.  In 2006 I deployed to Helmand Province Afghanistan for the first of three very kinetic war fighting tours.

At that time, I was involved is some very hard, close quarter fighting.  Extremely dangerous situations, and unfortunate to have friends injured and killed.  On the 3rd of Feb 2009 during a firefight a rocket hit my left leg ripping off the back of my thigh and most of my calf.

Not a good day at the office for me…

I was evacuated back to the UK and had numerous surgeries to repair the injury, but that wasn’t going to keep my career.  In 2012 I was medically discharged from the Royal Marines.

I thought I was a hard, tough person but when I became a civilian I fought some of the hardest battles I had ever been in, and that was with my own brain.  Flashbacks, nightmares, paranoia, aggression, depression and drinking.  I was suffering with PTSD. I was in denial but everyone around me could see there was something wrong.  I needed help but didn’t want it.  The Royal Marines stepped in and got me some great therapy, which really got me back on track and feeling good again.

It was at this time of my recovery that I was asked to drive across the Sahara Desert in a £500 Citroen Berlingo with a group of veterans.

Why not…

So I embarked on this crazy trip and after 2 weeks being challenged daily, and being part of a team again, the vets and I spoke about things we would never open up about, even with close friends and family.  I came home a new man.  The fire I used to have inside me had been ignited again and I felt amazing.  I needed to get other veterans feeling how I did after that trip, using a simple concept but one that I knew worked.

A year and a half on since the beginning on VetRun180, we now have a fleet of land Rovers, some with hand controls and adaptions enabling us to take amputees and seriously injured veterans on our expeditions.  Four expeditions have been completed. Northern Portugal, Galicia, the Empty Quarter desert in Oman and last week we completed our first UK expedition across the Yorkshire Moors, dales and the Lake District.

We have helped 40 injured veterans to date and the results have been better than I could have ever expected.  In some cases, we have saved lives…

We are providing ‘adventure therapy’ and it works.  Moving forward we want to continue running expeditions and help as many injured veterans as possible, there are thousands.

Simon Dedman Trustee

Simon William Dedman was born in April 1963 in Bristol,  he married  his wife Julie in June 1987 and they have one son James William Dedman born in 1998.

Simon went to Somerset College of Agriculture where he studied for his National Certificate and then went on to Usk Agricultural College where he  studied Advanced Pig Husbandry and then he went on to run a large pig unit on Salisbury Plain, after which, he went to the Falkland islands as a Shepherd based in Walker Creek and Goose Green in the post war period.

He returned to the Uk to join his wife in running their own company in Yorkshire which was started with a grant from the Princes Trust in 1984 and under their stewardship it grew to be the largest independent laboratory company in the UK. They continued to run and invest in a wide range of companies across the globe as diverse as food factories, snow machine distributors and the manufacture of  ophthalmic surgical equipment.

Simon went on to serve as a local Magistrate in Dewsbury and Leeds for a period of ten years, sitting in both Family and Adult Courts.

Simon has always been passionate about travel With a particular passion for rallies: he has driven 4x4s across the Himalayas to Everest base camp, throughout India,  Australia, Thailand , Malaysia , Vietnam and Cambodia. He was part of the first 4×4 crossing of the Bering Straits driving from Moscow to Uelen across Siberia, Kamchatka  in temperatures at -50 deg c in a Land Rover 110.

Simon has funded several trips around Scotland for veterans suffering from PTSD   and accompanied a 4×4 rally across  the Sahara desert with physically wounded veterans and  veterans suffering from PTSD. While on this expedition he saw how desperate veterans were to get back their sense of pride and achievement within a challenging team environment and he experienced first hand the benefits to these veterans of overland adventure therapy. As a direct result of this, he started VETRUN180 with two Ex-Marines in 2018.

The Dedman family funded the start-up of  www.vetrun180.org   and has provided the charity with funding for the first overland adventures , in addition to a warehouse with  seven fully kitted out  Land Rovers and all the necessary camping equipment from tents to cooking facilities for 24 veterans  participants.

Steve Sampher Team leader

Hi , please can I start by saying thank you for taking the time to read through our amazing team at VetRun180 who are hell bent on helping others.

I’m Steve Sampher and I’m in my 24th year of service. I joined the Army in 1995 joining the The Light Dragoons, a Formation Reconnoissance Regiment undertaking operational tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. It was on my last deployment in 2012 to Afghanistan which was a very high tempo and kinetic tour, as the Brigade Reconnoissance Squadron on Op Herrick 16 I was involved in an IED explosion that launched my Scimitar Light Tank 10-15ft into the air and landed on its roof…This caused significant damage to my right leg, I was assessing the damage and trying to evacuate my crew to safety when we came under secondary attack from small arms fire. We returned fire and during the heated firefight it was at that point I was shot in the helmet, this shot rendered me unconscious and caused a bleed to the brain and a traumatic brain injury. Numerous operations followed to my head and leg but unfortunately my right leg had to be amputated above the knee in Mid 2017.

The 5 years of constant operations, ill health, rehabilitation at Headley Court and incidents that happened on previous operational tours took a massive toll on my mental heath and I had to be sectioned for my own safety and that of others several times.

In late 2017 I contracted blood clots in my heart and lungs as a result of the amputation which nearly killed me. I was in ICU for three weeks trying to get the clots under control this lead to most of 2018 trying to recover and adapting to the amputation, it was at this time I can honestly say I was a my lowest point. I hated what I was putting my family through and didn’t like what I was becoming. I was reluctant to leave my home, I hated being around people, I just wanted to be on my own pushing everyone close to me away, I locked myself away in my garage for days on end just to be on my own. I was slowly just shutting down and I found myself again planning to take my own life. I just looked upon myself as a massive burden on all my loved ones and everyone around me.

In 2019 this is when Matt and the Vetrun180 family reached out to me and got me on one of their expeditions to Galicia Northern Spain. I totally didn’t know what to expect? With no pressure I was made to feel at ease and very comfortable and welcome around the group. I can honestly say at that point in time it saved my life and gave me some direction and challenges, being around other servicemen and women it made me realise it’s not just me going through horrible times but as we got into the expedition you see other folks are struggling too.

All the different story’s and journeys people are on we helped each other, supported one another in all aspects and having the camaraderie of the group you soon slip back into that comfortable banter, laughing and joking, what we all know and love about our Military family.

And to be asked to be one of Vetrun180’s team leaders is massive! This has given me a huge focus and direction to help and support others participating in future expeditions. I have now completed a FREC 3 trauma medics course, a mental health first aid course and a LANTRA 4×4 off road operating qualification all provided by VetRun180 to give me the skills required in being a team leader

“If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you”

“Life’s hard, a driving expedition is harder”

Simon Green Official Photographer

I have been a photographer and filmmaker in a professional capacity for over 20 years. I started as a photographer in the Army re-trading from the Royal Green Jackets.

After serving nine years in the Army, I left without realising that I was struggling with mental health issues. It would be another nine years before the consequences of it hit me. I coped after leaving  the Army by filling every gap in my life with excessive work and exercise, but in 2011 after some family problems, I had a complete breakdown and was diagnosed with PTSD. Every organisation I turned to failed me in some way, but after another five years of struggling and a great deal of determination, I finally managed to get back on top of everything and start rebuilding my life.

In December 2018 I lost my wife very quickly to cancer and I hit rock bottom once again. Life for me became incredibly lonely and isolating.

Simon Green

A few months later, after applying to participate in an expedition with Vetrun180 I received a phone call from Matt Abbott. He invited me on the Coast to Coast expedition. I remember being petrified driving down to Yorkshire for the first day of the trip. My mind was running through all the things that could go wrong, that I would do wrong, or wouldn’t be able to cope with. I need not have worried. The expedition changed my life.

I met a group of like minded people, who were going through or had been through similar experiences to what I had. There was no judgement and for the first time in years I felt I was in the right place.

As much as I loved the driving, that wasn’t what I got out of the trip, instead for me it reignited my passion for photography. To be able to capture the rest of the team enjoying themselves, to photograph their experiences in the stunning landscapes of The Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire Moors and the Lake District, helped to fill me with life again. For that photography to also be used by Vetrun180 on their website and social media, gave me a real sense of purpose and helped to rebuild my confidence.

As I drove away at the end of the trip I had to pull over because I was in floods of tears. I had to leave all of those good experiences behind and go back to what had become an empty life. In the following days and weeks though, what I found was the group of people who I had met on the trip were still there, sharing the positive experiences and the laughs. A couple of them have been really supportive when I’ve needed it and I have been able to do the same in return.

Since that first trip I have been helping Vetrun180 with photography and films for promotional use and social media. A second trip, this time to Sweden allowed me to cement that relationship with Vetrun180 . The stunning landscapes and the brilliant experiences allowed me to get footage and photographs that reflected what the organisation are all about. The best moments of Sweden for me were filming and photographing from the back of a Skidoo, the rest of the team enjoying themselves, it is an experience that will stay with me. Returning home at the end of this trip wasn’t that daunting journey that I had at the end of the first trip.

At a fundraising event in February 2020 that loneliness that I had been feeling a year earlier really shifted. I was surrounded by so many people that I could call friends, people that I had spent time with and shared experiences with.

Being asked to be part of the Vetrun team as the official photographer was an incredible moment for me. When I look back at where I was before that first trip, to where I am now, it is unbelievable. Vetrun180 has given me confidence and enthusiasm, a support network and a sense of purpose and I hope that my involvement in the charity can give some of that to other veterans.

www.simongreen.co.uk

Ross Turner Team leader

After 19 years service I was medically discharged in July 2015.    

My world came crashing down around me.  I tried various jobs but being honest, 

I struggled to adapt to civilian life, I was used to a world where the job got done when it needed to be and I trusted the blokes around me with my life and I didn’t get that same feeling in the jobs I did.  

After some complications with surgery I was advised to call it a day and retire.   

I hooked up with some other Veteran groups, Go-Karting and Motorsport but they were not for me. 

I saw an article in my local paper about VETRUN180 and thought that it sounded right up my street so I gave Matt a ring. 

I rocked up on day 1 of the Galicia expedition and honestly, it was like being back with my old Troop.  

The banter was there, the team work, the rush of pushing the vehicles to their limits over some testing terrain but most of all there is always someone there to have a brew and a chat with when and if you need it. 

We don’t like to admit it because of our proud military background but we all need someone who we can relate to and VetRun has that in spades. 

All I can say is get the application paperwork filled out and come and see for yourself, trust me, you won’t regret it. 

I was also part of the recce team for the first coast to coast which led on to the actual trip not long after.  

I was then asked if I fancied becoming a Team Leader for a trip coming up towards the end of the summer in Scotland and it took all of .1 of a second to jump at the chance and I can now start to help other veterans experience what I have been lucky enough to. 

I have completed 4 qualifications with VetRun, my Lantra off road driving , First Aid at Work, Mental Health First Aid and my First Responser Emergency Care course.  

VetRun has given me something that I can’t really put in to words.  My smile is back and I know that others who have been on trips feel the same. 

Joe Zipfel Team leader

I have taken part in several of the Vetrun expeditions and they have made me feel like I am part of the team. I have travelled to Oman and Northern Spain and Portugal with Vetrun on some testing expeditions, during these expeditions we faced some difficult challenges but we overcame them with other like-minded injured servicemen and women all whilst having a good laugh. This is something I found extremely beneficial and reminded me of being back in the military. Having taken part in several expeditions Vetrun gave me the opportunity to team lead a UK coast to coast trip which I was apprehensive about but found incredibly motivating and ultimately very rewarding. To enable me to team lead expeditions Vetrun have provided me with a mental health first aid course, a FREC3 first aid course as well as a LANTRA off road driving course. This has not only enabled me to become a team leader but has also developed me personally and has given me qualifications that I can use in my working life. I would highly recommend Vetrun to anyone, I have enjoyed every expedition I have taken part in where I have made great friends and a support network for life!

 

Rob Burgess Team leader

After almost 15 years of service I was medically discharged on the 31st March 2016.
I didn’t realise how quickly a person could literally lose everything imaginable.

My kids, my marriage, my business, bankruptcy, homelessness and my mind.  I was in the worst place possible. Surviving day by day and sometimes trying not to survive.
I saw a post mid September on Facebook for VetRun180 and thought ‘why not?’

Two weeks later I turned up the day before my 37th birthday and was welcomed in to a very familiar group of people…not by looks or names but by the comradeship and comfort around the guys  The safety net.

I didn’t even know what I was going to be doing on this trip to be honest, I just needed to be with these unknown friends, desperate for help.

The trips I have been on have seriously saved me.  The network, the  the shoulder, the ear to bend.

I don’t want to go in to what happens on the trips, join up and find out yourself.  I will say though, take that leap.  The hardest part of doing a marathon is the paperwork, once you’re there you’re there.

It’s the best thing you’ll do and it will start to free your mind. I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to be a team leader so I can give back and help people on their journey to recovery from my experiences with VetRun180.  Team leading on the Galicia expedition was a great milestone for me and I thrived again leading men.  I now help with planning and administration for future expeditions.

James Dedman Trustee

James William Dedman was born on the 25th of March 1998 to Simon and Julie Dedman in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. In his formative years he attended Silcotes School and then went on to complete his A levels at Vilamoura International School in Portugal. 

2014 Was the year James formed a keen interest in International Double Trap Shooting. He competed in his first British Shooting selection at Beverly in East Yorkshire and following the competition his keen interest became a passion. That same year at the age of 16 he competed in a World Cup where he won his first gold medal on the international stage and won a silver medal at the European Championships. With a solid start to Double Trap he won two silver and one gold in the following year. In 2016 he attended 3 more word cups where he won two more silver and one bronze medal. 2017 was a big year for the then 19 year old James; three gold medals in three world cups, a coveted gold at the World Championships, a bronze while  competing  early in the over 21 category, and fourth place at the World Cup final. Over those years James has set two world records, and multiple British and European records. 

James inherited his love of travel from his father and so far has visited 86 countries. After shooting in several charitable clay shoots he was dismayed to see how little of the proceeds went directly to veterans in need. He also witnessed how other countries helped, thanked, and respected their ex armed forces. This was discussed with his father in 2018 after Simon had undertaken an expedition experience with veterans. As a result James helped with the Vet Run 180 startup by donating six Landrovers and the warehouse base for the rally equipment, space, and location that Vet Run 180 use before and after their life changing journeys. 

Lawrence Salvoni Trustee

The eldest son to parents who met in the shooting team at RAF Cosford in the 60’s. Their postings took them around Europe, the Middle and Far East so Lawrence spent much of his youth surrounded by members of the UK and other NATO forces.

He lives in Cheshire, is married to Kelly and has two daughters, one about to start university to study bio-chemistry and the other has recently started working as an estate agent.

His dream was to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and join the Army, however injuries meant he was unable and only after 18 months of physio had to settle for serving with 3rd Battalion the Royal Welch Fusiliers as part of the Territorial Army.

Lawrence then began a 30 year accidental accounting career and has worked for multinationals across Europe in various sectors including aerospace, biotechnology, plastics, laboratory testing and most recently with the Dedman family looking after the finances of several UK companies.

His families’ service records inspired him to take a keen interest in military history: His grand uncle earning the DFC but losing his life over Germany whose name is engraved at Runnymede. His grandfather was twice on the beaches in France at both Dunkirk and later Normandy as well as serving with the 8th Army in Tobruk, El Alamein and Monte Cassino, and then volunteered again to serve in Malaya. His father served in Aden and still keeps shrapnel fragments to remind him of his lucky escape from an NLF attack on his foot patrol that killed his fellow serviceman.

He has given talks on First World War history and equipment to schools near his home in Cheshire and has assisted his county council loaning military collections for displays in local museums. In 2019, alongside other local amateur historians, he assisted with a ‘talking history’ event where visitors could ask a Tommy questions about life in the trenches.

Whilst having raised funds for military charities through sponsored events over the years, he feels, like Simon, Matt and James that something more proactive should be done to help repay the debt owed to our former and serving armed forces members, rather than simply funding existing organisations.

The testimonies of the veterans who Vetrun180 has so far been able to help, is proof positive that this charity works.

Meet the team

VetRun180 is made up of four Trustees who all bring different experience and skills to run the Charity. We also have veterans who have benefited from VetRun180 expeditions so much they have stepped up to be team leaders on expeditions. As we grow we want veterans helping veterans.

Matt Abbott
Managing Trustee
Simon Dedman
Trustee
Steve Sampher
Team leader
Simon Green
Simon Green
Official Photographer
Ross Turner
Team leader
Joe Zipfel
Team leader
Rob Burgess
Team leader
James Dedman
Trustee
Lawrence Salvoni
Trustee