Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Serviceman in charity challenge with a twist

An airman based at RAF Benson is taking part in a charity challenge with a twist.

Sgt Ian O'Grady, a crewman with 78 Swuadron, is part of Team Beeline Britain, three men and a woman who aim to become the first people to travel from Land's End to John O'Groats in a straight line.

They hope to raise £20,000 for Blesma, a charity which supports serviemen who have lost limbs, the use of their limbs or their eyesight.

They will set off on May 18 on a route that will take them via St David's Head, Bardsey Island, Holyhead, the Isle of Man, Glasgow, the Cairngorms and Lossie mouth. The journey will be completed by sea kayak, hand bike, road bike and on foot.

Sgt O'Grady. who came up with the idea, currently works with the Merlin helicopters at RAF Benson and for the past four years has been balancing his military career with recovering from a plvis injury. Before joining the RAF, he worked as a professional kayaker, white water raft guide and climbing and mountaineering instructor.

He will be accmopaied by Capt Nick Beighton, Adam Harmer and Tori James. Capt Beighton was in the Royal Engineers in 2009 when he lost both his legs above the knee when he was struck by an IED while serving in Afghanistan. He rowed for Team GB at the 2012 Paralympics in London.

Mr Harmer is a kayak coach and lecturer in outdoor education and Tori James is the youngest British woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Sgt O'Grady said: "Adam and I both wanted to do something a bit different to challenge ourselves and I came up with the idea of travelling the length of the UK in a straight line.

"Deciding that we had to raise funds for Blesma in the process, we knew that we wanted an ambassador for the charity who had benefitted from their amazing support. As an injured serviceman and successful Paralympian, Nick was an ideal candidate and we were honoured and delighted when he agreed to join the team. We wanted a female to join us who had the experience, endurance and credentials to be able to complete the challenge. That's where Tori came in."

Last week, the quartet visited RAF Benson to receive the baton they will carry with them. It was crafted from the handle of a stretcher that was used on a battlefield.

For more information, visit www.beelinebritain.com.

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