Airborne Soldiers March for Charity

A nine-strong team of sappers from 23 Engr Regt (Air Assault) from Woodbridge, shouldered 20kg rucksacks to march on treadmills outside Tesco Extra in Martlesham for 24 hours, to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

The endurance challenge, called Exercise Aquila Endurance, saw each of the nine soldiers walk 1.5 miles every hour, covering 36 miles each and a total of 324 miles. Proceeds from the event exceeded £3,000.

Organiser L/Cpl Longden said: “It was hard work to keep going, particularly in the small hours of the morning, but the generosity and encouragement from shoppers and staff kept us motivated. Almost everyone who came into the shop across the 24 hours threw money in our bucket. The public do huge amounts of fundraising for military charities and, as soldiers, we wanted to challenge ourselves to raise money for a cause for everybody. Most people have a friend or relative affected by cancer and the charity does excellent work researching cancer treatments.”

L/Cpl Longden helped raise £5,000 for the charity through a similar challenge last year while training at the Royal School of Military Engineering in Chatham, Kent.

In a similar event soldiers marched more than 300 miles round the clock to raise money for a statue of an eagle – the symbol of 16 Air Assault Brigade.

The Iron Eagle Challenge saw 36 soldiers from HQ 16 Air Assault Brigade shoulder 20kg rucksacks and rifles to tab on three treadmills for 24 hours. Each soldier ran a minimum of eight miles over two hours, with 324 miles covered by the end of the event. The event raised £1,500 which will be used to buy a six foot high statue of an eagle to stand outside the HQ building at Colchester’s Merville Barracks. Participants names will be engraved on a plaque on the statue.

WO1 Oakes, who is in charge of physical fitness and sport for the brigade, was behind the fundraising challenge. He said: “I saw the statue in a salvage yard and thought it was a perfect match for the eagle on the brigade badge. I paid a deposit on it straight away, got approval for the idea of a statue and then came up with a way to raise the money. The tab has been a good challenge for everyone, particularly those who had to stay motivated in the middle of the night, and a good teambuilding exercise for the headquarters.”

The striking eagle design on 16 Air Assault Brigade’s badge was adopted from the Special Training Centre in Lochailot, Scotland, which trained paratroopers and commandos during the Second World War.

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