Doncaster man’s bomb disposal suit fundraiser for Afghan heroes

Hot stuff: Tony Handley , who is raising money for injured bomb disposal officers by wearing a full bombsuit.                 Picture: Steve Parkin.
Hot stuff: Tony Handley , who is raising money for injured bomb disposal officers by wearing a full bombsuit. Picture: Steve Parkin.
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They are usually seen on our TV screens, slowly and carefully approaching the site of a live bomb, wearing special suits designed to protect them from blast injuries.

Anyone can see bomb disposal specialists must get very hot and uncomfortable wearing their suits - and Doncaster man Tony Handley knows that for certain.

Not because he is an explosive ordnance disposal officer, but because he plans to raise money for the guys who are - by wearing a similar bulky suit for no less than 24 hours.

The Balby lorry driver wants to show his solidarity for members of the Royal Logistic Corps who risk their lives every day in Afghanistan seeking out and defusing the improved explosive devices laid by the Taliban.

Tony, aged 47, is hoping to raise at least £1,000 for the Felix Fund, which supports military personnel who have been on bomb disposal tours by providing them with ‘therapeutic normalisation’ breaks when they return home.

Tony said: “It’s a very stressful job, probably the most stressful in the world, and they can be quite affected by it.

“I’ve got a lot of admiration for them and I wanted to do something to help them.”

Tony, who is also a military Land Rover enthusiast and owns his own vintage bomb disposal vehicle, will be travelling down to the War and Peace military show and camp in Kent next week.

He will don his own bomb suit at 12noon on Friday, July 20, and keep it on until 12noon the next day.

The suit, of a style worn by bomb disposal officers in Northern Ireland, weighs around 55lbs and Tony must receive assistance to get it on and off.

“It is very heavy and very hot,” he said. “We do most of these shows in the summer and if it’s a hot day you know about it.

“I will be standing under a shelter but it will still get very hot inside it. I will only be removing it for comfort breaks.

“The longest I’ve ever worn it for before is four-and-a-half hours, so it will be a challenge to go 24 hours - I don’t know what it will be like for a long time.

“This will be the biggest test I’ve had, although I know some people have run marathons in them. I think I’m quite fit but it won’t be easy.”

Tony, of Cedar Road, has already got donations of £350 but hopes to achieve £1,000 with a bucket collection at the show and from people visiting his webpage - www.justgiving.com/tony-handley