Gunners from 9 (Plassey) Battery will be tackling a collective ironman triathlon every day, for nine days to try and raise £999 for NHS Charities Together.
The team of seven soldiers, who are part of 12th Regiment Royal Artillery based at Baker Barracks on Thorney Island, need to swim 4.5km, cycle 180km and run 45km every day – 142.6 miles a day or 1,283.4 miles in all.
Inspiration for the fundraiser came following the deployment of personnel from the battery as part of Operation Rescript, the codename for the military mission to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Sergeant Danny Jefferys is one of the organisers of the fundraiser. The 32-year-old Afghanistan veteran said: ‘We have seen first hand just how stretched the NHS is and how hard they work and how much of their own time they put into.
‘It seemed to be way more than just a job for them. It was something they were totally committed to – wanting to help people. We wanted to help them like they helped us.’
The squad completed its first triathlon on Monday, recording their progress using the Strava fitness app.
Second Lieutenant Toby Atkinson is relatively new to the battery and has helped to co-ordinate the fundraiser.
Although he wasn’t part of the team to deploy on Op Rescript, 2Lt Atkinson said the mission had touched the hearts of all those who had been.
The 23-year-old said: ‘For the team it was a big thing. It was a big opportunity for young soldiers to go out and do something that genuinely helps.
‘This was a genuine operation where the country needed them and they wanted to get out and help.’
The fundraiser comes amid rising cases of Covid-19 nationally, with fears the NHS could be overwhelmed over the winter.
Sgt Jefferys said the team was concerned by the rise in cases and what that would mean for the NHS.
But he added everyone was determined to complete the challenge and raise as much cash as possible.
‘It’s going to be a big ask,’ he added. ‘But an event is supposed to be difficult. It’s not meant to be easy.’
The squad has already raised £300 so far. To donate, see justgiving.com/fundraising/ExPlassey999