The army captain responsible for assuring the training of the Armed Forces’ mounted units is swapping four legs for goggles as he prepares to swim the English Channel.
Captain Harry Grantham, who joined the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery in 1995, is swimming the 21 miles to raise awareness of mental health issues, especially among service personnel.
He was inspired to take on the challenge from his own experiences and hopes to encourage those experiencing mental health issues to seek help at an early stage.
“If I can help make at least one person’s life better as a result of the money and awareness raised by my Channel swim I’ll be delighted,” said Captain Grantham.
“I’m hoping for calm waters, but as I tell the soldiers who take their horses to the beach each year to improve their riding abilities, the most important thing is to have Army confidence – if you can believe you can do something, you’ve done all the preparations you need and you’ve got a strong team supporting you, nothing can stand in your way.”
Several years ago, Major Nigel Mudd noticed a change in his colleague’s behaviour and encouraged him to open up and seek help for personal problems he was struggling with.
Captain Grantham was supported by the Army Welfare Centre, which helped him find a path to improving his mental health.
He now wants to highlight the role everyone can play in each other’s wellbeing.
“If you see something, even something small, go and help them,” he said, adding that this early unbidden intervention can help prevent individuals thinking there is no way forward.
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“The joy of coming together physically to share ideas and work alongside comrades once more cannot be underestimated”
Since 1875 only 1,881 people have successfully swum the Channel and Captain Grantham aims to join this list with a target finish time of 12-14 hours.
Major Mudd, who supported him through his mental health recovery, will be among those from his old regiment in the support boat on Monday (7 September) when Captain Grantham crosses some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Captain Grantham had a successful career as a soldier with the King’s Troop, including a stint as regimental sergeant major (the most senior position a soldier can reach before commissioning) and then attended the late entry officer course at Sandhurst, where he gained his commission in 2017.
He is now serving as the SO3 equine assurance officer within the headquarters of London District, where he is responsible for assuring the training of all the mounted units, including the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and the King’s Troop.
All money raised will go to the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund to support gunners who are dealing with mental illness.
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