Army officer and businessman take on Tweed Challenge for Veterans Aid

Posted On: 
25th May 2018

The cost of a single person sleeping rough in the UK for 12 months is estimated at £20,128 and the cost of successful intervention just £1,426. Veterans Aid is all about prevention, which is why a Scottish businessman and an English soldier will be swapping their respective desks and tanks for a kayak in June in a bid to navigate 97 miles of the mighty River Tweed.

Their aim is to raise at least £30,000 and prevent 300 veterans from becoming homeless.

Lt Col Nick Woolgar, 46, and investment manager Jamie MacLeod, 49, are undertaking the challenge to support Veterans Aid, a charity that provides immediate, practical support for ex-servicemen and women in crisis.

Both men are novices on the water – but no slouches in their chosen careers. Nick, who was commissioned into the 1721st Lancers in 1991, has commanded Challenger tanks in Bosnia and led capacity-building teams in Somalia. Jamie, whose investment career spans more than 25 years, was MD of Scottish Widows Fund Management at 29 and is presently CEO of Bordier UK. He married and lived in Jedburgh.

But between 8-15 June the men will be well out of their respective comfort zones.

Jamie said: “My concern is river conditions. The Tweed can be brutal and easily rise 10 feet or more in 24 hours after heavy rain. It can become dangerous after rising just two feet.

“This was a big decision for us. Prior to approaching VA, we studied the charity and its management team. We concluded that they were a very high-quality group of professionals, doing something special in a crowded charity environment. They have disciplined processes; tremendous transparency and they really care about helping veterans out of difficult situations. They do a lot more than ensuring ‘no first night out’ and what they have achieved in recent years is truly impressive.”

Nick said: “We’ve pledged to paddle the nearly 100 miles of the River Tweed, from source to mouth, by kayak to raise funds for this inspirational charity. Despite having no experience, we will paddle (or carry!) our 14ft kayak the full distance over six days.  All money raised by the tweed Challenge will go towards something vital and unique. It will fund Veterans Aid’s emergency interventions – the immediate actions that prevent ex-servicemen and women in crisis ending up as rough sleepers.”

CEO of Veterans Aid, Ayrshire-born Wg. Cdr. Dr Hugh Milroy, said: “We have many supporters, and all are valued, but what Nick and Jamie have undertaken is truly astounding. Their target of £30,000 was set with the informed goal of funding a pathway off the streets for around 300 veterans.  Their Just Giving site ( explains how.”