Ex-soldier coming towards end of 15-hour treadmill marathon in Dereham gym

Sugary tea, energy tablets and the support of Dereham residents, businesses and serviceman are helping an ex-soldier who is this evening coming towards the end of a 15-hour treadmill marathon.

Michael O'Brien is raising money for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, and particularly wants to support the families of servicemen.

The 40 year old, who served with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, started his challenge at Barretts Health and Fitness gym in Dereham at 7am today, Thursday December 6.

By 4.30pm he had already clocked up more than 200 miles on a combination of treadmill and exercise bike, and said he was in good shape to reach his target of 9pm.

The challenge comes one day after 6,000 people cheered the Light Dragoons at their home coming parade, an event Mr O'Brien said further inspired him.

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He said: 'When I was on the running machine the first three hours I thought 'I'm not going to do this', but once I got past the first three hours I have got my iPod here and I just block everything out. I have had good support – it has been fun.

'You look at the Dragoons and think of the ones who did not come home, and the ones who are injured and the families – the wives, the dads, the children. The families are the backbone and they are the ones who have to sit at home and worry their heads off and wonder 'Will my son or husband come home and be in one piece'.'

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Mr O'Brien, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, said he also wants to help the public to better understand the condition.

To support Mr O'Brien, visit him at Barretts Health and Fitness gym behind the Bull in Dereham High Street before 9pm today (Thursday). Donations can be left in the bucket at the gym entrance.

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