Mark and Gary arrive at the Menin Gate on The Frontline Walk.Mark and Gary, from Stockport, both took part in our annual event, The Frontline Walk, this past October. Due to popular demand, the Frontline Walk expanded to two events this year with Mark and Gary opting for the second week. Luck was in their favour as the sun shone and the sky was blue for their challenge, unlike our walkers on week one who were soaked to the skin (yet still wearing a smile!).

The two friends chose this challenge to mark Gary’s 50th birthday and to give themselves some motivation to “get off their backsides” and stay active! Whilst Mark was born into army life due to his serving father, Gary’s interest for the event stemmed from his “deep respect for our Armed Forces” and his desire “to be able to do something to help and show gratitude for their work on our behalf, past and present.”

Mark and Gary’s training started in February this year, a whole nine months before the walk took place. They started with shorter three mile walks in the Peak District and slowly built up their distance to longer training sessions of 15-18 miles. The advantage of taking part in the Frontline Walk with a friend is being able to schedule training sessions with people whose end goal is the same as yours. No excuses and a lot a fun!

When asking the pair how they raised vital funds for our charity, Mark told us: “we have carried out several fundraising schemes such as car boot sales, a bucket collection at our local football club (we won on the night!), support from their companies, G & P Design Services Ltd and New-Tonne Lifting Services, as well as generous donations from a wide range of friends and family.”

We asked Gary what he would say to others thinking about taking part and his rolled-of-the-tongue response was “Simple – do it!”. Mark added that he was “proud and happy to have been part of such a special charity and to be given the chance to help our brave soldiers and their families when they need it the most.”

Gary and Mark were joined on the Walk by ambassador Bob Semple, who walked with the group, speaking about his experiences and how the charity helped him and his family when they needed it. Gary spoke about the first class support he believes our soldiers and veterans deserve, and how speaking to Bob he “heard first-hand how [the charity] delivers just that”.

You can find out more about our 2018 event which commemorates the Centenary of the First World War here: https://www.soldierscharity.org/events/frontline-walk-2017/

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