Rallying call to give heroes on fundraising journey warm welcome in Suffolk and Norfolk

Well wishing residents are being encouraged to hold onto their patriotic bunting and banners from the Jubilee and Olympics to welcome a group of military heroes into the region as they embark on an epic fundraising challenge.

Made up of ex-servicemen and civilians, including a triple amputee and former US marine, the members of the Tour de Forces team are preparing to run and cycle their way round the coast line of Great Britain in aid of four military charities.

Their incredible journey - more than 3,000 miles long - will take them through north Suffolk and Norfolk and into Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Caister, Happisburgh, Cromer, Hunstanton and King's Lynn.

Their journey through East Anglia will include two overnight stays in Gorleston and King's Lynn and residents of both seaside resorts and in communities along the route are being urged to show their support for the team by giving them a heroes welcome.

Organiser Paul Shersby, 24, who has grown up in a military family, came up with the idea for the challenge after sending a message to friends on a social networking site.

He said the journey through Norfolk and Suffolk would be a new experience for a lot of the team but one they were looking forward to.

'We're hoping for people to show their support, it will be a big push for us,' he added. 'This is the first time a team have cycled and ran in. It's going to be tough but we have got the mentality, we're quite driven.'

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The team includes former Royal Marines Commando Mark Ormrod who lost three limbs on Christmas Eve 2007 while serving in Afghanistan. He was part of a team that ran 3,563 miles across America and will be completing the Tour de Forces challenge using a specialised hand cycle.

He will be joined by runner Charles Padilla, a former United States Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant who also took part in the USA charity challenge, Mr Shearsby, who will be cycling the course, Marc Roberts, who has served in the Army and Navy and will also be cycling, sports therapist Stevie Budge and support vehicle driver Sean Aiken.

They are setting off from Plymouth next month and aim to cover an average of 100 miles a day at a speed of around 14mph, completing the coastal course in 32 days.

Joyce Cooper, a welfare case worker with the Royal British Legion (RBL) in north Suffolk, is giving the team a bed for the night in her Gorleston home and helping to coordinate a welcoming ceremony when they arrive.

The grandmother-of-three said: 'I think it's important they get a heroes welcome, our house is going to be covered in bunting. I think they deserve it and they need to recognition for the effort (they're making) especially young Mark who is doing 100 miles a day with no legs and only one arm.'

She has teamed up with RBL members from Yarmouth to organise the welcome near her home in Marine Parade.

'I would love to make this a big celebration, it's a case close to my heart because I do work for the legion,' Mrs Cooper added.

The Tour de Forces team is expected in Lowestoft at around 4pm on September 6 and will then move onto Gorleston to arrive between 5pm and 6pm.

They will set off from Gorleston at around 8am on September 7 and head north along the coast to finish in King's Lynn at around 6pm. They will then wave Norfolk goodbye at 8am on September 8 and head to Grimsby.

? For more information about the challenge visit www.tourdeforces.com

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