Royal Navy divers plunging to new depths for charity

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MUD, cold and near-zero visibility were the least of this team of Royal Navy diver’s problems as they sought to conquer a charity challenge like no other.

The group of mine clearance divers, from the Fleet Diving Squadron, have taken endurance events to new depths – literally.

The 14-strong team have spent the past day trudging the muddy depths of their training lake, at Horsea Island, in a bid to raise cash for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).

Pairs of fundraisers have been taking it in turns to complete a 1,000m stretch of the course, while wearing lead-lined boots, an air cylinder and helmet and dragging a rigid inflatable behind them.

Leading Diver Graham Williamson, 37, was one of the first to take to the water – tackling a 2,000m stint.

He said: ‘It was a really good feeling to reach the end.

Royal Navy divers from the Fleet Diving Squadron brace themselves for their 30-hour endurance epic Picture: LA(PHOT) Jay Allen

Royal Navy divers from the Fleet Diving Squadron brace themselves for their 30-hour endurance epic Picture: LA(PHOT) Jay Allen

‘All the way through I was just trying to think of a happy place to be – I was thinking of the nice holiday in Cyprus and playing on the beach.’

The squad aims to complete their 26-mile task within 30 hours, crossing the finishing line at about noon today.

As the sun went down and light dimmed, the underwater team used a rope to guide them through their six-metre deep lake.

Above them, in the rigid inflatable, was a full support crew, with communication equipment to make sure both divers were comfortable and safe.

I was gobsmacked when I heard about their plan.

Hilary Jukes, regional co-ordinator for the RNRMC

Lieutenant Jonny Campbell felt the men were fully prepared to overcome the gruelling challenge.

‘This is a big challenge but its well within the capabilities of the Fleet Diving Squadron,’ he said. ‘You’ve got a highly motivated team of well trained people who love a challenge and love their jobs.’

It’s hoped their efforts will raise about £5,000 for the RNRMC.

Hilary Jukes, regional co-ordinator for the RNRMC said: ‘I was gobsmacked when I heard about their plan.

Leading Diver Graham Williamson is dressed in his suit ready for his first stage walk  Picture: LA(PHOT) Jay Allen

Leading Diver Graham Williamson is dressed in his suit ready for his first stage walk Picture: LA(PHOT) Jay Allen

‘I have worked in the charity sector for ten years now and I have never heard of an underwater challenge yet alone a marathon.

‘I couldn’t walk 26 miles on land – that would be tough enough. So for these guys to do it in weighted boots and full gear, while underwater – it’s madness.’

To donate, see http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fleetdivingunit1

To follow their progress see @marathonunderp1 on Twitter.

Two divers prepare to enter the water for their first leg of the marathon  Picture: LA(PHOT) Jay Allen

Two divers prepare to enter the water for their first leg of the marathon Picture: LA(PHOT) Jay Allen

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