On a mission to help Legion Scotland recover after the COVID-19 crisis, 78-year-old Army veteran John Thompson, of the Livingston branch, has raised more than £1,950 and counting for the charity in its centenary year.

 On the 15 May, the seasoned fundraiser and dedicated Legion Scotland member will be walking 50 miles to raise much-needed funds to support Legion Scotland in its vital work with veterans across the country.

 “I’ve done charities every year and I have done since I left the Army 48 years ago,” says John. “It’s been 48 years since I joined the Livingston Branch, so that’s a long time to do charities. I do a different one every year.”

 In preparation for his 50-mile walk this May, John has been getting the steps in to practice, and has cleverly divided up the distance to make it more manageable.

 “I’m doing it ten miles a day, which is no bad, the ones before have been 20 miles or 25 miles. I’ve got my younger brother, he comes with me most times, and he’s basically there if I need assistance or if anything happens. I’ve covered myself safety wise.”

 During the pandemic, Legion Scotland has been unable to fundraise in the ways it normally would, but has still continued to provide essential support to veterans. John adds, “They get veterans a great deal of help with their pensions, and the befriending thing as well is a very good thing. They organise different events in different places. We’ve got 23,000 odd members and about 38 branches, which is quite a lot.

 “The reason I’m doing these military ones is because of the shortage of funds right across the board, and veterans always seem to get that wee bit left behind because people think they’ve got big pensions.”

 John also plays a big volunteering role in his local community, from litter picking to helping out at special needs schools and centres for the elderly and dementia sufferers. He also speaks to a number of veterans each week to support them, a role which has become all the more important after an isolating year for many.

 John says, “Veterans cannae get to see people the way they would like to and talk to them. It’s all virtual stuff, and a lot of them don’t have the ability to organise things like that, and it’s a very difficult thing to try and do.”

 John has held multiple positions in the Livingston branch, including the roles of chairman and vice chairman, and prior to that had a long military career.

 “I did four years with the TA Royal Signals, and then I joined the Royal Highland Fusiliers and spent nine years with them, and six years of that was with the pipes and drums,” says John.

Support John on his steps and help raise funds for his passion for the Royal British Legion Scotland