POORLY veterans from the North-East crossed the border to demonstrate their athletic prowess in front of Prince Charles at the Highland Games.

The Mey Games were held in John O’Groats in front of thousands of spectators as well as its Chieftain, Prince Charles, or the Duke of Rothesay as he is known in Scotland.

Help for Heroes team of wounded, injured and sick veterans and serving personnel travelled up to compete in what is Scotland’s only adaptive Highland Games.

Last year Prince Charles invited the military charity to enter competitors - the first time that disabled athletes have been included within a traditional Highland Games in Scotland and 23 veterans took part.

After a day of sporting events from tossing the caber and throwing the hammer, Prince Charles presided over the prestigious final of the tug-of-war which resulted in a hard-fought win for Help for Heroes against Police Scotland.

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The jubilant team was coached by Zoe Savage from Newton Aycliffe who is a Staff Sergeant with the Royal Artillery and due to be medically discharged early next year due to depression caused by trauma.

She competed in track and field events including 800m, shot put, hammer throw and tossing the caber before leading the Help for Heroes tug-of-war team to victory and then being congratulated by the heir to the throne.

She said: “Prince Charles asked me how long I had been tossing the caber and when I said that I’d never done it before yesterday he was impressed.

"We had such a good time at the Mey Games, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,”added the 37-year-old who has served in the army for 21 years.

The overall Mey Games champion was named as Help for Heroes’ ambassador Jim Holborn from Sunderland who came first in the weight for distance, weight for height, shot put as well as third in the caber and hammer throw.

Mr Holburn, who was deployed to Iraq and served in the army for almost ten-years, was medically discharged after injuring his leg following a parachuting accident while on exercise.

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Winners Jim Holborn, Kieran Wood and Mark Tonner with the trophy

The 38-year-old is now a qualified boxing official, qualified athletics coach and official registered athlete for Gateshead Harriers.

He said: “Talking about my mental health has really helped in my recovery but when it comes to sport, I’ve always tried to hide my physical problems.

"However, at the Mey Games my disabilities were on show and that was liberating.

"I also really enjoyed supporting the other athletes and seeing them grow in confidence and achieve in front of cheering crowds.”

As well as rewarding the winning tug-o-war team with local ales, Prince Charles also presented the Help for Heroes’ Players’ Player award which is a sculpture of an adaptive Highland Games athlete made by veteran Paul Cappleman, an art room volunteer at Help for Heroes’ Phoenix House recovery centre in Catterick.