A FORMER soldier is going that extra mile for the Gurkha soldiers he fought alongside.
Ken Mason is gearing up to hit new heights when he sets off on his expedition to Mount Everest in October – the second of a trio of trips in aid of the cause.
The 49-year-old former combat medical technician with the Royal Army Medical Corps took part in the Marathon of the North in Sunderland earlier this month.
After his Mount Everest climb next March, he is travelling to Borneo to climb Mount Kinabalu and trek through the jungle in the region of Sarawak with local tribesmen.
Ken hopes to raise money for The Gurkha Welfare Trust, which cares for ex-Gurkha soldiers who have fought alongside British troops for almost 200 years.
Ken, who became a medic at Sunderland Royal Hospital after leaving the forces eight years ago, said: “I worked with the Gurkhas on regular operations during my 18 years of service, including in Kosovo.
“There’s about 8,500 ex-war veterans and their families in Nepal who get £40 a month because they are refused equal pensions to the British they fought alongside.
“Some of them are 70 and 80 years old and fought in the Second World War. They’re old men who have to walk for three days, once a month, over the Himalayas to get the money.
“They are the nicest, kindest, most generous people.They’re terrific and very proud, so they would never ask for anything, which is why I want to do this to help.”
On October 29, Ken, of Fulwell Road, will set off on his 18-day trek to Mount Everest base camp – a journey he carried out in 2010 in aid of the Gurkhas.
But this time, he has set his sights on a higher goal and will climb another 1,000ft up Kala Patthar, which looks out over Khumbu Glacier.
“The Gurkhas are fantastic fighters and people, and during the trip we will be going to a Gurkha village so it will be nice to say thank you to them personally,” the dad-of-five said.
On March 15, Ken, who is married to Rachael, will fly to Borneo for another trek to boost the charity’s funds.
“I’m excited about going on both of these and glad to be able to help. I’m funding the trips myself through my wages and am really looking forward to them.”
Cheques can be left at Mill View Social Club, Station Road, Seaburn, and made out to The Gurkha Welfare Trust or sent to the Sunderland Echo.