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‘Mountaineering has become my calling’: How the great outdoors helped a former soldier climb out of despair

Former Scots' Guard soldier Scott Flett is helping veterans through hillwalking.
Former Scots' Guard soldier Scott Flett is helping veterans through hillwalking.

Scott Flett knows first-hand the struggles soldiers face after leaving the armed forces.

The former Scots’ Guard served from 1996 until 2002.

His work took him from ceremony duties in London to the streets of Northern Ireland.

But after his departure, the Buckie man felt alone and turned to alcohol.

It was a slippery slope that got him into trouble.

From the Army to mountaineering

After years of mental health struggles, he turned his life around and found his calling in mountaineering after seeing a TV programme about Munros.

Now the 41-year-old certified mountain leader is helping fellow veterans reap the mental wellbeing benefits through the Guards Veterans Mountaineering group.

Scott Flett climbing at the Cairngorms National Park.

Scott said: “Once I left the army I found it really hard. One day it was a big family and the next day I was alone.

“I struggled and hit the drink and got into trouble. It took quite a long time to sort myself out.”

Scott moved to Aberdeen to get away from Buckie and then went offshore, determined to focus on work.

Watching a TV programme about Munros turned out to be the catalyst for turning his life around.

I have finally found my call.”

He said: “I was sick of going to pubs and I needed to stop.

“I needed something else to get out the house.

“In the forces when we are going up hills it is not enjoyable. However, now it gives you headspace and gets you recharged in the outdoors.

“I have finally found my call.”

Scott’s goal with the Guards Veterans Mountaineering group is to get his charges up to mountain leader standard.

He added: “Hopefully we can get funding from the forces to pay for training so these people can get out the mental place they are at.”

Army experience was an ‘eye opener’

He joined the armed forces at 16 and was not prepared for what the military had in store for him.

Scott Flett in uniform.

He said: “When I joined I was too young to go to Northern Ireland so I first went to London to do the ceremony duties.

“When I turned 18 I got shipped off to Northern Ireland to do a bit more real soldiering rather than a tourist attraction.

“It was a bit of an eye-opener for me as I was so young and hadn’t seen any of the violence happening on the news.

The experience affected me after I left the army.”

“I hadn’t left Buckie beyond going to London for training which was hard.

“Institutional bullying in training I thought was normal and it was not.

“I never had to deal with bullying first-hand and there were suicides during training.

“The experience affected me after I left.

Ambition to climb Mount Everest

Scott wants to follow in the footsteps of friend Adele Pennington by conquering Mount Everest.

She was the first British woman to have climbed Mount Everest twice. As well as this she holds the British female record for climbing six of the fourteen 8,000m peaks.

He said: “I want to climb Mount Everest before I’m 45-years-old.

“I know a couple of guys who have done it.

“I’m also friends with Adele Pennington who was the first British female to go up Mount Everest twice.”

  • He has recently set up a Facebook group to help locals get into walking up the the hills for mental health benefits.

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