Families of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan battle rain and blisters during 100 kilometre charity hike

Families of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan battle rain and blisters during 100 kilometre charity hike

Families of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan battle rain and blisters during 100 kilometre charity hike

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

The families of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan have battled torrential rain, blisters and night hiking to complete a 100 kilometre walk from London to Brighton and raise £12,000 for military charities.

They undertook the London2Brighton challenge in memory of Cpt Tom Sawyer RA, 29 Commando, who was killed in action on January 14, 2009.

And Cpl Chris Harrison from Garston, 40CDO Royal Marines, who was killed in action on May 9, 2010.

Tom's mother, Sue Sawyer, of Blackwell Drive, Watford, said: "Everyone who took part from Team Tom and Team Chris agreed it had been amazing, something we would remember for years to come and the best thing of all is that did it for Tom and Chris, to honour and remember them with pride and we have raised in excess of £12,000 for our Charities - Royal Marines Charitable Trust, Combat Stress, Help 4 Heroes, Royal British Legion, Diabetes UK and Watford Mencap.

"Our very grateful thanks to everyone who has sponsored us and supported us."

The 100km hike tested all the walkers, with some succumbing to injury before reaching Brighton.

Sue said: "The atmosphere and the camaraderie were fantastic.

"Intermittent downpours along the way turned parts of the course into a mudbath, providing some very difficult and dangerous terrain. We walked an average of 15k between rest stops.

"We were incredibly honoured to have our own personal Commando backup - three guys from Tom’s Regiment, 29 Commando.

"They stayed with us from start to finish, providing much needed moral support and first aid to very poorly feet, the deeper into the journey we got."

The walkers reached the halfway point at 1am - after 15 hours of hiking.

Waiting to cheer them on were the Team Tom Support Unit of family and friends.

Unfortunately, the severe conditions had taken its toll on some members of the teams, who suffered with wounds even the commandos couldn’t patch up.

After a hot meal and some first aid, the two remaining Team Chris members and four Team Tom members set off for the second half of the journey.

Sue continued: "Setting off for the final 33k seemed like an impossible task but the commandos assured us that once we reached 80k we would be on the home run.

"The sun finally came out as we covered the final 10k.  As we came into sight of Brighton Racecourse, Chris's brother Russ and fellow marine ‘Dutchy’ from Team Chris summoned up their energy reserves and ran the remaining distance and we all finished behind them.

"Walking up the racecourse and seeing all our family and friends and hearing the massive cheer of the crowd was an unbelievable experience."

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