THE father of late Marine Richard Hollington completed a non-stop 103-mile hike in memory of his son and declared: ‘There was no way I wasn’t going to finish it.’
Robin Hollington, 50, along with his family and friends tackled the South Downs Way at the weekend to raise money for Help For Heroes.
The sponsored trek helped Mne Hollington’s family break their fundraising target of £100,000.
Mr Hollington, from Petersfield, was one of just five trekkers who finished the walk from Eastbourne to Winchester.
There were 21 at the start of the journey, but the perilous night-time conditions saw many drop out with injuries.
Mr Hollington said: ‘It was painful. It was probably the most stupid thing I have ever thought of. But there was no doubt I would complete it.
‘It was a bit harder than I thought it would be. It was in the dark things got a little tricky.
‘Especially when people started getting hurt and having to get them off the path without causing any more damage.
‘But I never once contemplated not finishing.
‘I’m really touched by the support and generosity of people we passed on the footpaths who put donations in our buckets.
‘I didn’t just want to go and raise £5,000 because it wouldn’t make a difference.
‘I wanted to raise big money and if you’re going to raise big money then you have got to have a big event.’
Mne Hollington, 23, died on June 20 last year after suffering catastrophic wounds from a bomb blast while on patrol in Helmand, Afghanistan.
His family wanted to raise £100,000 for Help For Heroes by the first anniversary of his death next month.
Sponsorship for the 103-mile hike brought the total to around £103,000.
Mr Hollington had spent months training for the tough challenge and it took his team around 38 hours to complete the trek with no sleep and only short breaks for food.
Many were unable to complete the walk, having suffered from torn ligaments, sprained ankles and blisters.
They wore head torches to help navigate pathways through the countryside during the night.
Mne Ollie Spence, from Brighton, was in Afghanistan with Mne Hollington.
The 24-year-old, who was one of the five yompers who completed the walk, said: ‘At the darkest moments you could only see a couple of metres in front of you. That’s when the training kicks in. When things start to hurt that’s when you start focusing on something else to distract you.
‘I personally found fantasising about winning the lottery ate away the miles.’
The group left Eastbourne at 7am on Saturday, arriving in Winchester at 9.30pm on Sunday.
Mr Hollington’s wife Jen will now retrace the team’s steps in the opposite direction with a group of four friends.
You can donate by visiting www.bmycharity.com/SouthDowns WayYomp.