A FORMER soldier proved sight loss is no barrier to reaching new heights after mastering climbing in a week-long event supported by charities Scottish War Blinded and Blind Veterans UK.

A 12-strong troop, all living with vision impairment, were taught by international paraclimber Garry Cowan, who is himself completely blind, at the Combined Veterans Climbing Week.

David Martin, a veteran from Barrhead, who has sight in only one eye, was inspired after meeting Garry at a Scottish War Blinded event last year.

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And the 36-year-old said he was “over the moon” to progress from being a complete beginner in climbing, to reaching the top of 50-foot walls.

He said: “When Garry had told me about how he managed to climb I thought, ‘wow’, so when the opportunity came up to give it a try at this event, I thought I’d sign up. I had never even climbed before.

“It’s just all about feel and touch. I was quite nervous, but Garry really helped me and told me I don’t need to see to be able to climb.

“Even at the start of the sessions looking up at the walls I thought it was something I wouldn’t do – I never imagined I would be up there. It’s been great.”

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In the run up to Armed Forces Day on June 29, the week-long climbing event brought together veterans from across Scotland, England and Wales.

Thirty-seven-year-old Garry, who is also an RAF veteran, added: “I simply wanted to show others in the same situation that life goes on in many ways, despite sight loss. I’ve found that climbing does wonders for me on a physical and mental level.

“Meeting these enthusiastic veterans has been such a motivating experience.

“Every single participant has shown determination and willing to learn. I know that following this event each of the veterans will continue to participate in the sport.”