Norwich shoppers applaud fund-raisers after 70-mile run
Afternoon shoppers stopped to applaud as four RAF charity fundraisers staggered to a halt outside The Forum in Norwich after completing a 70-mile run through the night, braving temperatures as cold as -5C.
The servicemen from 15 Squadron RAF Regiment, based at RAF Honington in Suffolk, were joined by former Norwich City star Darren Huckerby for the first 20 miles of the run which is expected to raise nearly �5,000 for East Anglia Children's Hospices.
The former striker donated �1,000 himself to the charity which runs three hospices and provides care to sick children and their families.
Sipping a deserved glass of bubbly at the end of the epic run, the equivalent of nearly three marathons, Sgt Tim Mitchell said: 'The weather and terrain were both horrible but the very worthy cause and team spirit kept us going.'
Sgt Mitchell and his fellow team members Cpl Sean Faulkner, Acting Sgt Gareth Mills and Flt Sgt Mike Somerset had set off at 7pm on Friday in Hunstanton.
Spurred on by their colleague Cpl Alex Guthrie, who cycled alongside them, they took in a route around the North Norfolk coast to Cromer and then inland to Aylsham and Norwich, finishing at about 2.45pm yesterday.
Fellow squadron members were at the finish line to greet them.
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The squadron's commanding officer, Squadron Leader Ed Cripps, said: 'Our squadron received such great local support during our last deployment that we all wanted to give something back – I am extremely proud of what the guys have achieved today. They have shown the character and resolve that are the hallmarks of RAF Regiment personnel.'
The event was organised by Flt Sgt Steve Harrison who said: 'This was an extreme feat of endurance for an extremely worthwhile cause.'
Mark Loades, of East Anglia's Children's Hospices, said: 'I am amazed and very grateful for what the lads have done for us.'
He said their charity supported families and cared for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. They provided care and support wherever the family wished – in families' own homes, in hospital or at one of their hospices in Ipswich, Milton and Quidenham.
Other squadron members had completed stages of the route during the previous two days.
The RAF Regiment prides itself on its fitness and none of the team members did any extra training for the event.