500-mile mission for TA troops who have experienced war zones

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THREE Doncaster servicemen are walking 500 miles - without leaving a borough shopping centre - to help wounded colleagues.

Corporal Lee Gibbons is being joined by two of his Territorial Army colleagues, Lance Corporal James Spencer and Private Nathan Kendall, as they walk and run the epic trek on a treadmill in the Frenchgate Centre.

They are doing it all to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity.

Hundreds of shoppers, and people on their way through the centre to catch trains, have already donated to the part-time troops as they have walked past their site in the Frenchgate.

Lee said: “I have served in the armed forces for coming up to 14 years now and I am fortunate enough to still be in good health.

“After two tours of Bosnia and two in Iraq I am extremely lucky to be here unharmed. Myself and my colleagues want to help to raise funds for the charity as, one day, any of us could need their support.”

If walking and running 500 miles wasn’t enough, the trio are attempting the task wearing full combat uniform and carrying a backpack that a soldier would usually wear while on operational patrol. The pack weighs upwards of 20lbs.

The soldiers began their epic task on Monday and plan to reach the 500 mile target they have set by Sunday.

“The sheer endurance, determination and level of fitness required to do something like this really is testament to our troops,” said Amanda Phillips, Frenchgate centre manager.

Corporal Gibbons is hoping to organise another event.

He and fellow members of his regiment, 219 Squadron 150 Transport Regiment based on Sandford Road, Balby, aim to walk and run from Doncaster to Edinburgh in full kit and backpack.

“The Doncaster to Edinburgh event would take some organising so a date hasn’t been set yet, but it is definitely something we want to do,” he said.

The soldiers on their treadmill are stationed with collection buckets next to Debenhams.