By: Mike Drake6 min read
SafeGroup technician Chris Wakeling is in training to run 70 miles in less than 18 hours – to raise money for the Royal British Legion and his local air ambulance.
The former soldier has launched a campaign he calls Community Charity Challenge to complete extreme events to raise cash for good causes.
His first is to complete a 70-mile course – equivalent to over two and a half marathons – taking in three communities in Devon on Remembrance Day weekend.
He plans to set out from his home town, Honiton, and run a circular route that takes in the villages of Dunkeswell and Ottery St Mary in no more than 18 hours.
Chris will set out at 9pm on Friday November 12th 2021 and run throughout the night to complete the challenge no later than 3pm Saturday November 13th 2021.
He aims to raise £4,000 to be shared by the Royal British Legion, which is celebrating its centenary, and the Devon Air Ambulance Trust.
SafeGroup is helping fund Chris’s charity challenge. Managing Director Mike Drake said: “Chris has set himself a tough task for two excellent causes so we’re delighted to help him achieve his goal.”
Chris is dedicating his fundraising effort to his brother, Mark, who served in the British Army in the Royal Corps of Transport in the First Gulf War in 1991.
Mark became chronically ill after the war and died in August 2016. Chris says his brother had been one of an estimated 250,000 veterans who contracted Gulf War Syndrome, the cause of which is still being researched.
Chris served in the British Army for 15 years, competing tours of duty in many war zones, including Bosnia, Afghanistan, the Gulf, and in Northern Ireland, achieving the rank of sergeant before he left.
Now a senior cleaning and waste technician at SafeGroup, he said: “I’ve always tried to stay fit and active since leaving the army and I wanted to raise money for the legion which gave my brother a lot of support.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the legion and the air ambulance have both lost thousands of pounds because people haven’t been able to fundraise, so it’s vital that we redouble our efforts now.”
Now aged 46, he has already started a training regime to prepare for the challenge, running half marathon distances through the country lanes near his home.
Chris says he plans to attempt more challenges under the Community Charity Challenge banner, with specific events selected, helped by family, friends and supporters – and he hopes others will join future fundraising efforts.
“I wanted to complete this challenge by myself to see that it captures some interest, and I can do it,” he explained. “But for future ones, I would be very happy if other people want to join me to widen the interest and raise even more money for good causes.”