THE FORCES MARCH 2016 - event report
On Wednesday 25th May, around 100 people gathered at the seafront area in the popular North Devon resort of Ilfracombe for the start of an epic adventure - The Forces March 2016!
Amongst the group were current service personnel from the Army, Royal Air Force and the University of Birmingham Air Squadron as well as many ex-forces personnel and civilians from all over the UK.
Most of the group have been training for many months in the build up to the event and had also been hard at work raising sponsorship for The Veterans Charity.
The event got under way at 1000 with the Mayor of Ilfracombe, Cllr Paul Crabb, leading the group along the promenade. The group took with them some words of encouragement from Patron of the charity, Mrs Penny Howard-Bates whose father, the legendary Major John Howard DSO, led the men of 2nd battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on the same march back in 1942.
The runners and walkers set off in bright sunshine but with a chilling wind facing them. The route, which is based on the original WW2 training march, passes through some stunning scenery and charming villages and towns. Day one finished 27.5 miles from Ilfracombe at Westermill Farm Camping in the heart of Exmoor.
The weather remained fine and bright for the next four days and the group battled onwards through Exmoor, over the Quantock HIlls, Somerset Levels and finally across Salisbury Plain towards their objective; the finish at Old Carter Barracks in Bulford.
The particpants and support crews enjoyed fabulous support along the entire route from the residents in the many villages and towns including a wonderful concert from the children of Crowcombe Village Primary School and a wonderful welcome at Crowcombe Heathfield Station on day 2.
Warm welcomes and typical West Country cheer greeted the group in Combe Martin, Exford, Crowcombe Heathfield, Bridgwater, Westonzoyland, Langport, Somerton, Castle Cary, Chitterne and Shrewton. Our sincerst thanks to everyone who gave their morale boosting support along the entire 139 mile route.
Despite many suffering from the previous 5 days of relentless hills and roads, the participants finished in fine style, many of them having covered the entire distance. As always, medals were awarded to everyone who took part, including the support crews and operations team and trophies were presented by General Sir Robert Pascoe, President of The Veterans Charity.
The winners for 2016 are:
MILITARY CHALLENGE CUP:
University of Birmingham Air Squadron
THE MARK HALE TROPHY - Most Outstanding Male
Andy Shenton Snr
THE SARAH BRYANT TROPHY - Most Outstanding Female
THE BEN PARKINSON TROPHY - Overcoming Adversity
THE PETER FRENCH AWARD - Most Outstanding Crew
504 Sqn Catering Team
THE LEE RIGBY CUP - Community Spirit
Sapper Chris Tyrrell
THE PROTECTIVE SECURITY TROPHY - Top Fundraiser
105 Battalion REME
We would like to express our gratitude and eternal repsect for everyone who took part in this year's adventure and we look forward already to The Forces March 2017!
Entries for next year's epic challenge open on Monday 13th June at www.forcesmarch.org.uk