FOR three years in a row, Mark Nicholls has taken on a different challenge to raise money for a military charity.
The 18-year-old is unable to join the armed services due to having high-frequency hearing loss and needing to wear glasses.
But determined to help the servicemen and women he admires, he decided to hold annual charity events to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity that supports injured service personnel.
This year he and a group of friends will cycle 84 miles from South Downs College, where Mark studies music performance, to the New Forest and then to Salisbury where the headquarters of Help for Heroes is based, and back.
He, said: ‘Soldiers go out and fight for our country, then they get injured and we need to look after our soldiers when they return.
‘I couldn’t become a service man so I decided I would do these annual events.’
In 2012, Mark held his first event by walking 20 miles from Portsmouth to Hayling Island with a group from Park Community School.
He has since completed two other challenges, one in 2013 where he and a friend walked from Havant to Queen Elizabeth Country Park, stayed for three nights surviving on rations, and hiked back.
In 2014 he and two friends, starting at South Downs College, walked 42 miles in a circuit – the equivalent of walking from the college to the charity headquarters.
Now he and friends Lee Meredith, Jack Spencer, and Mark Bushell, are preparing for this year’s 84-mile cycle.
Mark added: ‘I’ve been using the gym at the college twice a week and working on my fitness. I’m a musician and I smoke so I’m unfit. Just thinking of a mile makes me tired and I’ve got to do 84.
‘Every year when it comes close to my event I start thinking I am not going to do it but I always do it.’
Anyone interested in donating to Mark and his friend’s effort can do so by texting the code “CTTH” followed by a space then the amount to donate (e.g. “£5”) to 70070.
Alternatively, donations can be made through Mark’s Just Giving page at justgiving.com/CycleToTheHeroes196050991