Territorial Army (TA) soldiers began marching hundreds of miles around North East England and Yorkshire this weekend to raise awareness of the Armed Forces and the role of the Reservist and raise money for charity.
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The soldiers from 72 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) set off from Baltic Square in Gateshead on Saturday 28 August 2010 to march over 560 miles (900km) around the boundary of 15 (North East) Brigade - the brigade to which they belong and the largest regional brigade in the UK.
The boundary encompasses eight counties - Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham, Teesside, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Yorkshire.
On the way, the soldiers will stop off to take part in a number of community events including a tug-of-war at Alnwick Castle against the local fire service, meeting the Mayor of Berwick at Berwick Castle where the walkers will be blessed by the local vicar, the opening of an Army Cadet detachment at Bellingham, a charity golf match in Hexham, meeting the public at the Peterlee Show, and a charity cricket match at Barnard Castle.
They will also meet some of the cast of the TV series ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Coronation Street’ at Hebden Bridge, go to schools in Leeds, visit Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland Football Clubs, take part in a raft race in York, meet the Lord Mayors of Kingston upon Hull, Middlesbrough and Scarborough, and go to Beverley Races.
The 23-day event will finish with the soldiers joining hundreds of other runners in the Great North Run from Newcastle to South Shields.
Lieutenant Colonel Graham Finch, Commanding Officer of 72 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers), said:
On our journey, which is the same as walking a marathon a day for 23 days, we will be joined by Territorial Army units from across the region as well as a number of our supporters - some well known such as mayors, civic leaders and TV celebrities, but also by members of the public who we look forward to meeting.
The Territorial Army provides one of the key links between the Army and the community. The march will provide a stiff physical and mental challenge for the regular and territorial members of the regiment.
But, more importantly, it will enable us to meet and develop a broader understanding and closer links with businesses, authorities, youth organisations and the wider community locally and regionally. This will further underpin the firm base of support across the region for the Armed Forces, both serving soldiers and veterans.
During the march people are encouraged to donate to the regiment’s five nominated charities - ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, the British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association (BLESMA), Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the Great North Air Ambulance Service. See Related Links.
72 Engineer Regiment, which has its headquarters in Napier Armoury, Gateshead, has squadrons in Gateshead, Newcastle and Sheffield. Yorkshire and the North East provide approximately 20 per cent of the Army’s recruits and are home to over 11 per cent of the Army.