Former Marines’ fund-raiser

TELEVISION presenter and newspaper columnist Lorraine Kelly recently joined a group of former commandos to help launch an epic fund-raising challenge.

The star met up with the 21 men, all of whom have left the marines and now serve in Scotland’s emergency services, as they trained for the ultimate endurance test.

Today (Friday), the team will kayak, white water raft, cycle, run and speed march 100 miles across Tayside in less than 24 hours. They are helping raise £1 million for Commando 999, a charity set up to help Royal Marines injured in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the launch, Lorraine said: “These men are true heroes and deserve all the support we can give them. They have bravely served their country and are now helping save lives on our streets. They are amazing.”

Forces’ sweetheart Lorraine added: “I’ve done a few tough challenges but nothing comes close to what these guys are attempting. If they manage to finish they will have earned every penny.”

In true commando spirit, the team members, who have over 100 years of operational service under their belts, have set themselves an awesome challenge.

At midnight tonight they will set off as individuals and teams from the western shores of Loch Tay and will kayak the 15-mile length of the loch through the night, arriving early tomorrow morning at Kenmore where they will exchange kayaks for rafts and descend 12 miles of rapids of the River Tay to the Freespirits base at Grandtully.

They will exchange boats for bikes and set off for Arbroath, cycling the 57 miles via Dunkeld, Coupar Angus and Dundee.

When they arrive in Arbroath at about 3 p.m. they will change into running gear at the Fire Station in Ponderlaw then run the 10 miles to Lunan Bay before joining up as a squad to speed march to the finish, the War Memorial, in Montrose, at approximately 6 p.m.

Challenge co-ordinator Conrad Trickett, a former Royal Marines officer and now Chief Inspector with Tayside Police, provided some background to the challenge.

He said: “Commando 999 started with former Royal Marines in the Metropolitan Police speed marching around the streets of London to raise money for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund

“Here in Tayside we have strong links with 45 Commando based at Condor and it seemed right to do something locally for such a worthwhile cause, especially at this time when the Commando Brigade including 45 Commando and reservists from Royal Marines Reserve Scotland are once again deployed to Helmand Province.”

Anyone who would like to donate should visit www.bmycharity.com/transtaysidechallenge. See the Trans Tayside Challenge promotional video at www.tigershark.tv/commando999. Further charity information is available at www.commando999.com.