TWO men who suffered and endured immense pain to complete a gruelling mental and physical challenge have raised £2,400 for Andy’s Man Club.

Stuart Mackenzie and Kevin Woodward have a “friendship for life” after walking the 96-mile length of the West Highland Way non-stop in the space of just 39 hours.

Kevin, from Hill of Beath, and Stuart, from Ballingry, have changed their lives for the better by attending the Cowdenbeath branch of Andy’s Man Club.

There were times when they wanted to quit the walk, but the pair persevered and pushed each other on from morning and through the night to reach the finish at Fort William having set off from Milngavie.

“This experience was a metaphor for mental health,” Kevin told the Times.

“You have to keep going, no matter what, and never give up.

“There were probably about a dozen times when I thought about quitting, but we supported each other and this is a personal achievement we will always remember.

“I couldn’t have done it without Stuart, no question. Both of us have been at our lowest within the past year or so and while neither of us are ‘fixed’, we are on the right path.

“This is a journey, and we wouldn’t be where we are without the support of Andy’s Man Club.”

Stuart developed blisters early on in the challenge and suffered through every step which, he says, left his feet “totally mullered”.

“I wasn’t expecting to have that to deal with on top of the walk itself,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for Kevin, there is no way I would have managed it.

“As much as my feet were in agony, it’s your head that dictates what you are capable of achieving. You just push through that pain and get to where you want to be.

“I’ve been through a tough time in my life, and so has Kevin, so although raising the money we have done is awesome, that hug we shared at the end and completing the Way meant more to me than anything else.

“Life is tough, and it can be cruel. Sometimes it’s just about grabbing the bull by the horns and taking charge. It is absolutely amazing what the human body and mind can achieve.

“To finish this challenge with Kevin, it was an incredible feeling and I’d do anything for him in life after this.”

For Kevin, one of the highlights from the tremendous endeavour was a phone call from one of his two teenage sons.

One of their teachers had mentioned in class that “two local guys were walking the West Highland Way non-stop” and Kevin was overjoyed that the subject of mental health and Andy’s Man Club was being brought up in schools.

“To have my son hold his hand up and say, ‘That’s my dad’, was such an unexpected treasure.

“I talk to my boys all the time about mental health. What I share at Andy’s Man Club, I’ll often share with them.

“And they are talking to me about what’s on their mind; that could be homework, girlfriends, stresses of just being a teenager and that angst we all had at that age.

“Breaking that stigma of getting young guys, at high school age, to talk about how they are feeling is crucial.

“We need them all to know that bottling it up is unhealthy. Talking makes such a huge difference.

“And Andy’s Man Club is not just for men who may be feeling suicidal, that perception is wrong. It is for anyone who wants to talk, share and be somewhere where they won’t be judged.

“That door is open to anyone who needs it.”

Andy’s Man Club Cowdenbeath runs on a Monday night at the Maxwell Centre at 7pm (excluding bank holidays).