TWO Manchester veterans from Help for Heroes are returning to defend their honour at the Mey Highland Games this weekend.

Steve Mills and Simon Flores will replace their usual combat uniform for kilts on Saturday, as they get involved in shaping policies, along with the Highland Games Association, for the games of the future.

Steve Mills, from Altrincham, keeps fit with the Help for Heroes sporting activities, after suffering a stroke in 2009 meant he was unable to work with left - sided weakness.

He said: “The staff at Phoenix House Recovery Centre have helped and advised, even pushed and pulled me to reach all of my goals so far. I made two very serious attempts to take my own life and Help for Heroes has helped me out of that hole and set me on a new path towards the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m running at it head on!”

“Competing in the Highland Games is stuff that’s beyond my wildest dreams. Help for Heroes has given me so many opportunities.”

The move comes after Prince Charles, last year, invited the military charity to enter competitors, marking the first time disabled athletes are included within a traditional Highland Games in Scotland.

On Saturday, starting at 10am, competitions will be contested at the John O’ Groats showground, including throwing and lifting events such as the tug-o-war and hammer throw.

Joining Steve is Simon Flores, from Newton Heath, who has a prosthetic leg after losing his foot in Iraq in 2006 but was missing the action he used to love.

Caring for his three children among daily training at the gym have helped Simon take his mind off his physical and mental health problems he was left with his time serving with the Royal Green Jackets. This is his second year taking part in the Mey games.

“I was hooked. I had never done a strong man competition before and came second in tossing the caber. There was a team there from America – Uncle Sam’s Highlanders - some of whom were double amputees,” he said.

“It was an honour to compete alongside them and we gave them a good run for their money.”

The two veterans will be heading to the The Mey Games, first held in 1970, on August 3. It is also supported by the Invictus Games Foundation, the international multi-sport event for wounded veterans.

Mark Airey, Physical Development Coach at Help for Heroes, said the team had doubled in size since last years games: “They got so much out of it. The passion to try something new and train hard to do the best they could on the day, and the camaraderie not just within the team but with fellow competitors was second to none. All of that boosts confidence which is integral to their recovery,” he said.

In preparation for the games this weekend, the Help for Heroes team are hoping to present a sculpture of an athlete with a prosthetic leg throwing the hammer, to Prince Charles in appreciation of his support. Steve and Simon, along with other veterans and supporters, will be representing Help for Heroes.

The charity provides recovery and support for all those and their families who have been affected by their time serving in the British Armed Forces, having now helped over 21,000 individuals.

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