Norfolk servicemen's epic charity trek

It is a war-torn country where danger and death are a daily reality - a dusty, barren landscape a world away from Norfolk's lush fields and big skies.Just last week the fighting in Afghanistan claimed the life of another British serviceman, 22-year-old L/Cpl Alex Hawkins from the Royal Anglian Regiment who died “doing the job he loved” in the south of the country.

It is a war-torn country where danger and death are a daily reality - a dusty, barren landscape a world away from Norfolk's lush fields and big skies.

Just last week the fighting in Afghanistan claimed the life of another British serviceman, 22-year-old L/Cpl Alex Hawkins from the Royal Anglian Regiment who died “doing the job he loved” in the south of the country.

But now super-fit members of the Light Dragoons, based at Swanton Morley, near Dereham, and their colleagues on a tour of duty in the troubled Helmand Province, have taken up a new challenge.

They will run, cycle and row 3,650 miles - the distance between their home and Afghan bases - in a bid to raise money for charities.

But instead of crossing countries, oceans and marching up mountains, the men on a mission will not leave the confines of their bases.

The Light Dragoons stationed at Camp Bastion in the Helmand Province will be covering the 3,650 miles home by running around the base perimeter - in between undertaking a perilous mission.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the regiment back at Swanton Morley's Robertson Barracks will be making the reverse journey by bike, rowing machine and treadmill.

The two teams will be keeping track of each other's daily progress by phone and email as well as charting how far they have travelled on a map.

Major Joe Jordan said: “We'll be keeping a close eye on how the other team get on. There is no prize for whoever finishes first but there is most definitely an element of competition about it. It's fair to say we're keen to win.

“We all admire them. They are working hard out there and are taking time out when they should be relaxing to complete this.

“It's a good way for us to keep in contact with the guys out there.”

The regiment hopes to raise £10,000 for charity through sponsorship as well as holding a raffle with prizes donated from the local community, with the money being split between the Army Benevolent Fund, East Dereham Hospital Trust and a recently bereaved family.

The Light Dragoons will have to find the time to clock up the miles in between working as part of the International Security Assistance Force, which recently launched a mission to evict Taliban fighters out of the Upper Gereshk Valley, and so the charity challenge could take up to a month to complete.

Codenamed Chakush, or Hammer, the offensive began early on Tuesday, July 24, in the north east of Gereshk, with the help of the Afghan National Security Force, to expel the Taliban army and expand the influence of Afghanistan's democratically elected government as well as see vital development projects and rebuilding take place.

During the first stages of the mission, soldiers secured a strategic bridge crossing and cleared and searched compounds and they are now moving through the Taliban-held areas continuing into the Upper Gereshk Valley.

To sponsor the soldiers send cheques payable to Central Bank Light Dragoons care of Major Jordan, The Light Dragoons, Robertson Barracks, Swanton Morley, Norfolk, or to donate a prize for a raffle contact Major Jordan on 01362 627891.

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