Injured veteran, GB Wheelchair Rugby player and Britain’s Disabled Strongman, Mac McLaren has offered a great show of support to Pilgrim Bandits by announcing he is getting the charity’s logo embroidered on his wheelchair for all to see. We’ve been pleased to support Mac previously by helping towards the cost of his rugby wheelchair and he is a valued member of our community. We caught up with him to thank him for his kind gesture and to find out a little more about what the future holds…
Serving for his country
Mac joined the Scots Guards in 1996 and went on to serve in the 1st battalion Royal Highland Fusiliers. Due to injury, Mac was discharged from the Army in 2005.
He told us, “I tore my knee in Bosnia in September 1999, which resulted in surgery after the tour was finished. I was also involved in an explosion in Bosnia where I sustained only minor physical injuries, but I suffer with PTSD as a result of it. I went on to have two other surgeries on my knees and psychological treatment.
“While deployed in Iraq on Op Telic in 2003, I was attached to United States Marine Corps as part of the Chemical Reaction Team. While we were out on the ground we came under contact and, unfortunately, as I broke for cover, I tore my knee again and was ‘casualty evacuated’ out to Cyprus, then back to Germany for treatment. After rehab, I was medically discharged in 2005. As the years have gone on, my legs have deteriorated and I am now set for a Through-Knee Amputation of my right leg.”
Mac hasn’t let his injury stop him in his tracks – instead he has grown in strength and determination, competing at multiple Disabled Strongman events this year. These competitions see athletes compete in events which include the max log lift, axle deadlifts, the front hold, the giant dumbbell press and finally the stone medley which comprises of a mixture of the famous atlas stones and natural stones.
Mac explained, “I got into Strongman via Bulks Gym in Gravesend end in 2020. Huge thanks to Jay and Emmy Hughes who own Bulks gym, without their ongoing support, I wouldn’t have a gym to train in and be competing as I am today. Britain’s Strongman was my first major competition and I came second, narrowly pipped to first by only one point. The event involves: Log Press 85kg, Axle Deadlift 210kg x11reps, Circus dumbbell 20kg x24repsand Atlas stones 50kg, 60kg, 70kg, 70kg and 80kg. Four weeks later, I then took part in Arnolds Disabled Strongman at NEC in Birmingham. This is the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic and was the first time being held in the UK. I set a new world record as first person in seated 2 to complete the 110kg atlas stone.”
But, there’s no time to rest for Mac…
He informed us of his exciting news, “I am competing at World’s Strongest in Reykjavik, Iceland in a couple of weeks’ time, which is amazing for me as I’ve only been competing in Strongman for One year!”
Telling us what Pilgrim Bandits means to him, he said: “I first heard about Pilgrim Bandits from CEO Matt Hellyer, while living at Stoll in Fulham. The charity greatly supported me by helping towards the cost of my new Rugby Wheelchair – I play in the GB Wheelchair Rugby League 1 for Saracens and have been using a club chair. Having my own chair measured to fit will increase my ability on court and help me progress further and maybe one day represent GB at Paralympic level. It was an easy decision really to get the Pilgrim Bandits logo embroidered on the wheelchair, with the support that Pilgrim Bandits has given me, I wanted to thank them in a personal way. It also allows me to showcase the charity to everyone; when people ask me about it, I can tell them about the charity and what they do for the service community.
“Pilgrim Bandits is a very approachable charity and very supportive with endeavours that help people carry on with everyday life and helps make sporting dreams a reality.”
Mac believes that other injured veterans and emergency service personnel should also reach out for help from Pilgrim Bandits.
He says: “It’s hard to swallow your pride and ask for help, but it’s the first step to a new endeavour. Take the leap like I did and you won’t regret it. Pilgrim Bandits are like family and support you as such.”
You can find out more about Mac and follow his progress over on Instagram: @tartan_warrior_strongman. We wish him all the very best for his upcoming competition.