Soldiers go the distance for charity

A BUNCH of soldiers in Iraq are spending their spare time raising money for charity by rowing, running and cycling the distance home to Suffolk and back again.

A BUNCH of soldiers in Iraq are spending their spare time raising money for charity by rowing, running and cycling the distance home to Suffolk and back again.

In between flying sorties in Southern Iraq, kind-hearted 654 Squadron from Wattisham are pouring their energies into fundraising.

The Squadron, part of the 4 Regiment Army Air Corps (AAC) has been deployed in Basrah since July.

They have spent their precious free time camel racing, taking part in quiz nights and charging for haircuts (normally free for soldiers on operational tours) to raise funds for a children's charity.

But the squadron's main aim is to cover the 5,600mile distance between Basrah and Wattisham and back again with a combination of rowing, running and cycling.

So far they have clocked up a distance of 1,500 miles.

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Sqn Leader Alison Simmonds, explained: "Squadron members at any level can complete a training session of any length and then the distance is logged onto a special sheet and signed by a witness.

"The distance accumulated is marked, weekly, onto a map to check progress."

As a final part of the project, the squadron aims to run cross country, a distance of 90 miles from Basrah to Al Amarah, where it has an outpost of Gazelle helicopters.

The squadron is due to return to the UK in December for Christmas leave.

If you wish to help 654 Squadron raise money for the charity, send a cheque payable to Blue Beret Central Bank to: WO2 A Gardner, SSM 654 Squadron, JHF (I), Op TELIC, BFPO 641 (postage is free).

The 654 Squadron is part of the Joint Helicopter Force (JHF) which includes army, navy and RAF personnel and aircraft.

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