Triathlon effort at South Downs College helps wounded troops

Triathletes at the South Downs College charity event held in memory of Royal Marine Richard Hollington
Triathletes at the South Downs College charity event held in memory of Royal Marine Richard Hollington

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MOST had never met Richard Hollington, but everyone had heard about his courage.

Inspired by the legacy of the Royal Marine, young people gritted their teeth and swam, cycled and ran in a gruelling charity triathlon to raise money to help injured soldiers.

The event, organised by football academy students at South Downs College in Waterlooville, raised £1,000.

The cash will be donated to Help for Heroes, as well as the British Heart Foundation.

Richard, who was killed at the age of 23 three years ago from wounds sustained in an explosion in Afghanistan, was a former student at South Downs and used to play in the football team.

The students started their challenge at Havant Leisure Centre, completing 64 lengths of the pool.

Then they cycled from Havant to Fratton Park – a distance of seven miles.

Testing their fitness levels to the limit, they completed a 7.5-mile run back to South Downs College.

And, as if that wasn’t be enough, they went into the sports hall and played an impromptu game of wheelchair basketball.

Academy students Matt Rowland and Callum Downer said the triathlon ‘pushed us out of our comfort zone’.

Lee Bridgeman, who works in the sports department, said: ‘The students were all brilliant and worked hard as a team.

‘They were all encouraging each other especially toward the end of the run when it got really hard.

‘I was impressed with their determination in aid of a good cause.’

Helen Hill, Richard’s former tutor, said: ‘The students decided to have a group photo taken by Richard’s memorial at the college – I think this was when it all became a reality for them.’

More than £250,000 has now been raised in memory of Richard for Help for Heroes.

Richard’s dad, Robin, from Petersfield, said: ‘We remain stunned by the constant events that people put on to raise funds.

‘I think South Downs is just awesome.

‘Bear in mind that no-one at South Downs would know Richard now. He left in 2005.

‘Eight years on and the students at South Downs were probably in primary school by the time Richard left.’