A FOREIGN legion veteran last week enjoyed a warm Scottish welcome in Alloa as he made a pit-stop on an 11-month charity bike ride around the UK.

Allen Stokes, from Telford, set off from Plymouth last December and has been cycling around the cost of the UK ever since in a bid to raise awareness of PTSD and funds for a range of armed forces charities.

The former French Foreign Legion soldier, who goes by the nickname Tiny among mates with his height of 6ft 1in and broad shoulders, suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder and said he spent around 18 years homeless on the streets.

However, he is on the road to a brighter future all while looking to do a good deed.

Last Wednesday, November 16, Tiny enjoyed views at Alloa Harbour as he rolled into town with a 200kg trailer in tow.

He had already visited Alva, raising funds with poetry – one of his passions – at The Cairn in town.

Speaking about his charity ride, he said: “I'm a rather large bloke, you wouldn't expect me to be cycling as far as I am.

“Even friends who came to Blackpool to meet me said they didn't even expect me to get this far.

“I never trained [for the ride], this was put together in about three weeks, I just got on it and set off.”

As a teenager, he was keen to enter service with the armed forces, but his father would not sign him up when he was 17.

One summer he told his parents he and a friend would be going hop-picking in France.

However, they both joined the French Foreign Legion – he was just 19 at the time and he would later see action in Iraq in 1991.

Tiny, as he would become to be known, returned to the UK years later.

He had a home, a full-time job and a fiancé. However, his complex PTSD would soon take a hold.

Tiny continued: “She couldn't lie there at night, listen to me shouting and screaming, crying in my sleep.

“So, one day I walked away and I went on the street.”

He would spend the next two decades homeless.

Tiny continued: “Because I am former French Foreign Legion, they wouldn't help, even our British lads – they don't get enough help.”

Tiny said some big charities have knocked him back and still to this day, he is struggling with the condition.

“I self-harm,” he said as he opened up about the realities of living with C-PTSD. “The other night I went up in Alva Glen and [self-harmed]; I am doing this with my own mental health problem.

“I am untreated, my treatment alone is what I am doing [the charity cycle ride] and my poetry.”

Visit gofund.me/1def211e to support the fundraiser.