Heroes reach Inverness en route to start of Heroes UK Challenge, land, sea and air

Slieve Donard by Dean Molyneux Creative Commons

In a ‘heroes for heroes’ challenge of awesome proportions – taking on earth, water and air – this afternoon a team of serving, former and wounded servicemen and policemen flew into Inverness airport from Bristol. They are a team of 12 with a logistics unit in support, en route for the start line – at John O’Groats on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 – of a unique physical challenge.

The team is committed to a unique and physically demanding challenge covering 1,283 miles of the UK by land, sea and Air, a challenge that has not been achieved to date.

The 12-strong frontline team will:

  • cycle a total of 1,206 miles from John O’Groats
  • row across the Irish Sea’s no-holds-barred North Channel – there and back
  • climb a total of 13,787ft in summiting the UK’s, four highest peaks (Scotland’s Ben Nevis in Lochaber, at 4409 ft; Northern Ireland’s Slieve Donard in County Down, at 2789 ft; England’s Scafell Pike in the Lake District, at 3029 ft; and Wales’ Snowdon at 3560 ft)
  • cycle on  to Lands End
  • skydive from 13,787ft into Swansea Airport – there must be other ways of getting home.

Take a deep breath

It starts with cycling and three of the stages involve Argyll.

  • On Day 1, 22nd May, they cycle 119 miles from John O’Groats back to Inverness.
  • On Day Two, 23rd May, they cycle 64 miles to Ben Nevis, climb the 1344m/4409ft peak and cycle another 45 miles to Oban.
  • On Day Three, 24th May, they cycle 107 miles to Campbeltown.
  • On Day Four, 25th May, they row 17 miles from Campbeltown – possibly from Southend – across the North Channel to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland. Then they cycle 86 miles to Slieve Donard – and climb its 850m/2789ft.
  • On Day Five, 26th May – and even writing this we’re out of puff already – they row 18 miles back across the Irish Sea from Newcastle at the foot of the mountain across to Portpatrick in Galloway – and then cycle 126 miles to Cockermouth in Cumbria.
  • On Day Six, 27th May, they cycle 26 miles to Scafell Pike in the Lakes, climb its 978m/3209ft and cycle another 88 miles to Preston in Lancashire.
  • On Day Seven, 28th May, they cycle 122 miles to Mount Snowden and then scale its 1085m/3560ft.
  • On Day Eight, 29th May, they cycle 133 miles to Hereford in the Welsh Marches.
  • On Day Nine, 30th May, they cycle 130 miles to Tiverton in Devon.
  • ON Day 10, the last, 31st May, they cycle another 130 miles to Lands End, rendezvous with their aircraft and skydive into Swansea Airport.

OK. Who’s not going to support an effort this scale by a team of serving retired and wounded servicemen, supported by colleagues from South Wales Police and doing it all in the cause of raising badly needed money to assist wounded heroes.

Kintyre Express acting as support boat

The first stage of the rowing element is the route from Campbeltown to Ballycastle. This is the run Campbeltown’s Kintyre Express fast passenger ferry does, probably offering the nearest thing to the view from the team’s rowing boat – only a lot quicker.

So it’s a natural for Kintyre Express to act as support boat for the team’s row across the channel – and the KE team will stay with them for their onward row the following day from Newcastle to Portpatrick.

You can help

You can donate online here – and everything you give will really help. You can also donate by Text: Text HCUK to 70900. You will be charged £5 plus your standard network rate and a minimum of £5.00 will go to Help for Heroes.

Who thought this one up?

The challenge is the brainchild of Richie Morgan, ex-Royal Marine and currently a serving police constable in the South Wales Police (SWP) – ably supported by his wingman, Huw Beckett, Police Constable in SWP.

They have been joined by a crew of serving and ex-military (including wounded personnel) and serving and ex-policemen from SWP, as well as police support staff and staff from G4S who run the custody units in SWP.

Some of the team whose identities we now know are:

  • Richie Morgan
  • Huw Beckett
  • Colin Charvis – ex Wales and Lions rugby player
  • Neil Richards – serving police officer
  • Bob Hamilton – ex Royal Navy and serving SWP
  • Tyrone Rees – ex Army and retired SWP (supporting role)

Heading the Logistics support unit is Grant Elgar, born in Hamphire and joining the army as a 17 year old. He spent the first 11 years of army life in the infantry, then moved into the Army Air Corps, qualified as a pilot and flew Gazelle Helicopters for 12 years. He is now working out of Swansea Airport as a pilot for the Welsh Air Ambulance – and has won many awards for his life saving missions in this service.

Peter Bowker is from North Wales and joined the army after leaving school at 16. Peter served in the Welsh Cavalry as a trooper  and driver or armoured vehicles. Posted to Afghanistan, he was there for 2 months when his vehicle hit an IED. He suffered a  a traumatic amputation of his right leg and was discharged from the army in August 2012. Looking to the future, Peter has already qualified as a dive master, teaching people how to dive – and when he’s not diving, he is working for the Prince’s Trust.

Note 1: The online Donations page for Help for Heroes is here.

Note 2: The photograph at the top is of one of the summit cairns on Slieve Donard, the second peak the Heroes Challenge UK will climb. It is by Dean Molyneux and is reproduced here under the Creative Commons licence.

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